A symposium was held recently dealing with important current issues in the seed industry. Titled "The future of seed treatment - is there a threat for treatment?" It was part of the Seed meets Technology event in Zwaagdijk, organized by Plantum and Seed meets Technology.
The main theme of the symposium was the future of seed treatments, their place in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and the views on this from the crop protection industry, seed companies and legislation. The background of the symposium is that many 'old' seed treatment products risk losing their approval, while new, greener products hardly get authorized. This is a threat to sustainable integrated crop protection, for which seed treatment is an excellent basis.
Complex, non-harmonized regulations
The first speaker was Carole Desbois-Vimont, coordinator of seed technology at the vegetable seed branch of Limagrain (France) and also participant in various (inter)national working groups. During her presentation, Carole addressed the challenges and wishes of vegetable seed companies in supplying quality seeds to the international market, despite the complex non-harmonized regulations that cause major uncertainties. Seed treatment as a basis for IPM limits the loss of yield by seed-borne and soil pathogens. However, high costs of (re)registration, the long-term admission process together with small application volumes make it less interesting for seed treatment manufacturers to develop and register seed treatment products. It is expected that many (estimated 70%) active substances will not be renewed in the EU in the coming years. Click here for the presentation.
Assessment of microorganisms is challenging
Werner Pol, Ecotox Team Manager at the Ctgb (Board for the authorization of plant protection products and biocides) explained the admission policy and practices for seed treatment products from a national and European perspective. He discussed the Ctgb's efforts for further European harmonization and acceleration of the authorization process for 'green' low-risk products and highlighted the challenges for the future. One of those challenges is the assessment of micro-organisms. The current procedure is based on active chemical substances. Click here for the presentation.
Seed treatment has many advantages despite challenges
Finally, René Huijsmans of Syngenta Crop Protection presented the vision from the crop protection industry. What challenges and opportunities does the industry see when registering seed treatment products? EU legislation and country-specific legislation mean that product authorizations are not harmonized (different timeframes, other crops allowed, different maximum sowing quantities, etc.). Also the authorization of products for treatment of seed for export outside the EU varies per country. Nevertheless, seed treatment is certainly important in the future: it is cost-effective, gives effective protection to the seed, reduces the impact on the environment compared to other application methods and provides agronomic benefits. With FarMore Technology, Syngenta wants to offer high-quality tailor-made products that contribute to an optimal yield and that also make it interesting for Syngenta to continue investing in new seed treatment applications. Click here for the presentation.
After the presentations, there was some time for questions and discussion. This revealed, among other things, the following requests:
- increased harmonization at various levels and (contact) persons to consult at EU level;
- equal interpretation of many issues with the various regulatory authorities;
- equal definitions of minor crops in the various countries;
- more extrapolation possibilities of crops.
It can be concluded that seed treatments are of great importance for an effective Integrated Pest Management system. At the same time, there is a clear need for greater harmonization regarding regulations and authorization within the EU and increasingly simplified procedures for the approval of seed treatments.