Frequently Asked Questions: Seeds Regulations

The FAQs below are meant to provide Canadians and businesses with general information about the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's regulations.

1. What is the purpose of these regulations?

The Seeds Regulations, under the authority of the Seeds Act, regulate seeds and seed potatoes in Canada that are sold, imported, or exported, as well as seeds released into the environment. They must meet established standards for quality and be labelled so that they are properly represented in the marketplace. Varieties of most major agricultural field crops must be registered prior to import or sale of seed.

2. What are the key elements of these regulations?

Part I - Seeds Other Than Seed Potatoes: establishes standards and prescribes the use of variety names for seed; sets requirements for sampling, testing, grading and labelling of seed; provides for the accreditation of graders and licensing of samplers; and sets out requirements for advertising, inspection and importation of seed.

Part II – Seed Potatoes: prescribes classes, standards and specific requirements for each class of seed potato; Nuclear Stock, Pre-elite, Elite I, Elite II, Elite III, Elite IV, Foundation and Certified. It sets out requirements for inspection and testing performed on specific classes of seed potatoes and provides specific minimum quality standards and grade sizes for seed potato tubers. Also established are requirements for the acceptance of interested seed potato growers' applications for crop inspection and for the issuance of crop certificates, seed potato tags, records of bulk movement, and certificates of authorization. Requirements are provided for tuber storage, packaging, tuber damage, and potato eyes and cut-seed potatoes. Certain provisions regulate the importation and re-certification of seed potatoes, the detention of seized seed potatoes, re-inspection, breeder's selection, non-registered varieties and the application of associated fees.

Part III – Variety Registration: sets out requirements for the approval of recommending committees, applications for registration, eligibility of varieties and for the registration of varieties of both seed and seed potatoes.

Part IV – Registration of Establishments that Prepare Seed and the Licensing of Operators: sets out requirements for the registration of an establishment as an approved conditioner, an authorized importer or a bulk storage facility for seed, as well as conditions of registration and operation of these establishments. Also provided are requirements for the licensing of operators of a registered establishment.

Part V – Release of Seed: requires notification of an intended release of the seed into the environment and allows the Minister to authorize the confined and unconfined release of seed. It also sets out the information to be included with the notification.

Schedule I: sets out standards for specific kinds/species of seed.

Schedule II: sets out the kinds/species of seed that must be graded with a Canada pedigreed grade name when a variety name is used.

Schedule III: sets out the common and scientific names for specific kinds, species or types of crops that are subject to variety registration.

3. How do these regulations affect Canadian businesses?

These regulations help to prevent the importation and spread of noxious weed seeds and provide seed and seed potato buyers with assurances that minimum standards for seed purity, germination and varietal purity have been met. All businesses involved in the sale, import or export of seed and seed potatoes have clear, specific, minimum requirements to meet and transaction costs are minimized by establishing standards and a language for trade.

These regulations allow for the federal registration of establishments involved in the processing of certified seed or the import of seed as well the licensing of personnel of those establishments. They also allow for the safety assessment of plants with novel traits (including genetically modified plants) prior to their release into the environment.

4. When did these regulations come-into-force?

The Seeds Regulations came into force on July 15, 1960 and have been amended multiple times since then. Part V came into force on December 19, 1996.

5. Where can I get more information?

Please refer to the appropriate section of the CFIA's website for more information: Seeds, Potatoes, Plants with Novel Traits.

Questions relating to seeds and seed potatoes may be directed to the Seed and Potato Specialists at the CFIA's Area offices.

Questions about environmental release of seed may be directed through the CFIA's Contact Us webpage.

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