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Review of quality management systems and accreditation programs to mitigate phytosanitary risk in seed trade

Sara Garcia Figuera: University of California-Davis

<div>The growth of the seed industry in recent decades, and the complexity of the seed production chain, have resulted in an increasing number of seed consignments being traded globally. Under the current international regulatory framework, countries rely on a series of phytosanitary measures, mainly inspection and certification, to mitigate the risk of introducing regulated pests via seed trade. An initiative called ReFreSH aims to develop a more efficient regulatory framework for seeds that will shift the focus of certification from individual consignments to producers’ production systems, which will be certified for the adoption of measures that mitigate pest risk within a systems approach. The idea for ReFreSH is to leverage existing measures used by the seed industry. We reviewed accreditation programs and the mechanisms that the accrediting authorities use to verify compliance. Required measures grouped in common themes such as sanitation and hygiene, use of clean plant material and water management, which suggests consensus about practices that mitigate phytosanitary risk. All of the programs required companies to implement a quality management system and relied on audits to verify compliance. Although seed sampling, seed health testing and treatments emerged as areas that will require more validation and harmonization, the identification of substantial common elements will aid in the development and implementation of ReFreSH.</div>