19 January 2001

Organic seed check

ORGANIC growers must check the availability of organic seed with at least three suppliers before resorting to conventional seed. Failure to do so could jeopardise the organic status of their crops.

Under an EU derogation set to run until December 2003 non-organic seed can be used if organic seed is unavailable, but only if growers have checked availability with three suppliers, unless there is definitely only one source of the variety.

If there is no organic seed available a Soil Association certificate of derogation must be applied for before buying conventional seed.

Failure to follow the correct procedure could lead to crops losing their organic status, warns Phillip Prideaux of Soil Association Producer Services.

Derogation certificates and drilling records are checked during certification inspections. Any non-organic seed drilled without prior approval will be noted as a non-compliance and if it occurs again the certification committee may withdraw the organic status of the crops, he says.

A list of known organic seed suppliers and seed availability by crop and variety is available from SAPS, 40-56, Victoria Street, Bristol BS1 6BY. &#42