Aims and Key Services

GM Team

The GM Team provide advice and technical support to Scottish Government colleagues and participates in UK committees on experimental deliberate release and contained use of GMOs (SACGM and ACRE). They also administer and provide assessors for applications for the Contained Use of GMOs in Scotland. They are full members of ENGL (the European Network of GMO Laboratories) providing input into EU level GM technical documentation, and also through ENGL, other international technical documentation such as ISO standards. They provide analytical testing to support enforcement activities, and also strategic development and improvement of molecular methods for use in GMO testing.

GM Inspectorate 

Scottish Government GM inspectors are appointed under Part VI of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The work is in support of the CAP Reform and Crop Policy Branch of the Rural and Environment Directorate who are Scotland’s Competent Authority for the regulation of the deliberate release of GMO’s under EC Directive 2001/18.

For details of the GM legislation that inspectors work to see the GM Regulatory Framework page.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)  is authorised by Defra to carry out equivalent inspection and enforcement services in England. SASA liaises closely with the GM Inspectorate in APHA, particularly in sharing information about seed material that crosses borders for production or marketing, and incidents that are common to both England and Scotland. Northern Ireland and Wales have separate arrangements.

Seed Notification Scheme

Genetically modified crops are steadily being grown more widely throughout the world since they were first commercialised in 1996. Where GMO crops are grown in seed producing areas, there is a risk of cross-pollination or GM seed inadvertently becoming mixed amongst conventional (non-GM) seedlots. This is known as adventitious GM presence (AGMP)

To assist Scottish merchants, processors and packers (MPP) minimise the risk of marketing seed that may contain AGMP, the GM Inspectorate runs a voluntary scheme to determine whether seed of high risk species has been imported directly into Scotland.  Questionnaires are sent out to all MPPs biannually.

  • Declarations of importation: where a notification is made on the questionnaire, this is followed up with further enquiries so that compliance with the GM Deliberate Release Regulations can be demonstrated. This may lead, on a case-by-case basis, to an audit and if necessary inspection of the imported seed. See Guidance for seed importers
  • Nil returns: where high risk seed has been bought from seed suppliers within the UK, we recommend that you read Guidance to market seed supplied from within the UK.

To assist seed producers or importers who wish to market agricultural seed for the purposes of tests and trials see Guidance to market seed for tests and trials.

It is important to note that participation in the monitoring programme should not be seen as an assurance that the GM Inspectorate will not exercise its powers in appropriate cases under Part VI of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Questionnaires can be returned by email or post. The address for email returns is: GMInspectorate@sasa.gov.scot.  Postal returns should be sent to Scottish Government GM Inspectorate, SASA, Roddinglaw Road, Edinburgh, EH12 9FJ.

For a summary of the biannual surveys and any resulting follow-up action please see GM Inspectorate Publications.

AGMP

Adventitious GM presence in Conventional Seed

In seed producing areas where GM crops co-exist with seed crops of conventionally bred varieties, there is a risk that seed from conventionally bred seed may inadvertently contain GM seed (AGMP) through cross-pollination or physical mixing of seed during processing. The legislative EU framework requires the labelling of conventional seed lots that contain any detectable traces of authorised GM seeds. If unauthorised GM seed is found in conventional crop seed, there is zero tolerance and the affected seedlot cannot be marketed.

Risk analyses undertaken on conventionally breed crops suggest that some species are at a higher risk, relative to other crops, from incorporation of adventitious GM material during seed production. Crops that are important to Scottish Agriculture that fall into this high risk category are:

  • Turnip fodder rape and related crops (Brassica rapa)
  • Winter and spring oilseed rape and related crops (Brassica napus)
  • Fodder maize & sweet corn (Zea mays)

The risk status of all crop species listed above is regularly reviewed.

Importers, producers, processors and merchants of non-GM (conventionally bred) agricultural and vegetable seed are recommended to take all reasonable steps to ensure, before obtaining or marketing high risk category seed it is free of AGMP (see relevant Guidance pages).

 

Guidance: UK Supplied Seed

Guidance for marketing seed that has been supplied from other companies from within the UK

Anyone considering marketing seed of certified, conventionally-bred crop varieties in Scotland that are of a high risk category of containing adventitious GM presence are advised to:

  • Obtain from your UK seed suppliers, letters of assurance or details of analytical tests on individual batches or seedlots, that follow the GM Inspectorate Guidance for importers and producers on the prevention of adventitious GM presence in conventional varieties.

In Scotland, high risk category species are winter and spring oilseed rape, turnip fodder rape & related species, fodder maize & sweet corn.

This information will assist your company to meet your legal duties to ensure that you have taken steps to minimise the risk of adventitious GM presence in conventional seed. It will also help you in answering customers questions relating to adventitious GM presence.

Should you have any queries over these measures contact the Scottish Government GM Inspectorate.

Guidance: Imported Seed

Guidance for marketing seed of a high risk category of containing adventitious GM material that has been imported directly into the Scotland from out with the UK

Seed importers that have made a seed declaration on the Scottish Government GM Inspectorate’s Seed Monitoring form are advised to:

  • Obtain a letter of assurance from the breeder giving assurances that the seed is free from adventitious GM presence; or
  • Obtain details of analytical tests on individual seed batches or seedlots. SASA also provides a GM testing service

These measures should follow the GM Inspectorate Guidance for importers and producers on the prevention of adventitious GM presence in conventional varieties of the relevant crops.

It is the role of the Scottish Government GM Inspectorate to audit seed importers to ensure appropriate steps (due diligence) have been taken and that appropriate documentation is available. We will contact import companies and will request access to the following information:

  • The species of the seed
  • The variety of seed
  • The field or lot reference number of the seed
  • The certification category of the seed
  • The country where the seed was produced
  • The weight of seed being imported
  • A letter of assurance or results of analytical tests as described above.

Should you have any queries over these measures contact the GM Inspectorate.

Guidance: Test and Trial Seed

Guidance for marketing seed for tests and trials (scientific purposes and selection work)

It is a requirement under the Seed (Scotland) (Amendments for Tests and Trials etc.) Regulations 2007 (2007 No. 224) and Regulation 9 of the Beet Seed No.2. (Scotland) 2010 (2010 No. 148)  that authorisation is given by either the Scottish Government or another European Authority for seed to be marketed for the purposes of conducting tests or trials, including tests for scientific purposes and selection work.

Breeders or Merchants, Processors or Packers based in Scotland should apply for the authorisation to use seed for these purposes by contacting SASA either in writing to Seed Certification Branch, using GM Inspectorate email address or by telephoning Mike Parker (0131 244 8853).

For those species that have a high risk category of containing adventitious GM presence, the Scottish Government GM Inspectorate also recommends that you obtain a letter of assurance from the breeder of the variety giving assurances that the seed is free from adventitious GM presence or obtain details of analytical tests on individual seed batches or seedlots, that follow the GM Inspectorate Guidance for importers and producers on the prevention of adventitious GM presence in conventional varieties of the relevant crops.

Should you have any queries over these measures contact the GM Inspectorate.

Case by Case Investigations

The GM Inspectorate investigates incidents that arise by through their routine duties or through enquiries that have been brought to the attention the Scottish Government’s CAP Reform and Crop Policy Branch.

Previous incidents have involved the trialling of conventional varieties which contained adventitious GM seed that were not authorised for cultivation.

For information on any case by case investigations please see GM Inspectorate Publications.

 

Site Monitoring

The Scottish Government GM Inspectorate directly monitored, or oversaw monitoring of, three sites where inadvertent sowings of GM crop seed took place in September 2008. Monitoring was continued until the autumn of 2011 with no further presence detected.

Although all Scottish consents for GM crop research trials have expired, landowners of former GM research trial sites, particularly those for oilseed rape, still have an obligation to ensure the produce of following conventional crops complies with the traceability and labelling requirements for food and feed products of GMOs (EU Regulation 1830/2003). This is because GM oilseed rape volunteers can persist at levels that may require a following non-GM oilseed rape crop to be labelled as ‘GM’