From State Seed Inspection Agency to Evira – 90 years of seed inspection


<p>Government-organised seed inspection started on 1 September 1919, exactly 90 years ago. The seed inspection service was launched to secure the position of farmers purchasing seeds.</p>

Seeds suffered from severe quality problems when the Seed Inspection Agency was set up. At worst, crushed stones were sold as clover seeds. The knowledge of varieties was often poor and plant diseases common.

Laboratory determination of seeds was the first service that was provided, with instructions drawn up for representative sampling. The determination of varietal purity also started in test fields. Crop inspections were started as part of seed quality assurance in the 1920s. From the very beginning, seed quality data were also indicated on the packages.

International operation

Seed Inspection has from the start operated also on the international scene. The first Director of the Agency, Mr. Eemeli Kitunen, studied seed inspection methodology in Germany, Switzerland and Denmark in the 1920s. Finland has been involved in the operation of the International Seed Testing Association ISTA since it was founded.

The laboratory and sampling activities of Seed Inspection were accredited by the International Seed Testing Association ISTA in 2000 in acknowledgement of the international standard of the operation. The agreement on the preparation of variety descriptions concluded between the Community Plant Variety Office of the European Union and Evira in 2008 was another international recognition to Finnish Seed Inspection. Evira is the northernmost plant variety testing organisation in the EU.

Evira certifies seeds

A certified seed is free of wild oat contamination and of pure variety. It germinates properly and is not contaminated with harmful seed-borne plant diseases. The approval procedure of certified seeds involves several inspection stages: crop inspection, varietal purity in field test inspections and laboratory analyses. A certified seed can be identified by the Certificate label attached to the sales package.

At the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, the Seed Inspection Unit is in charge of the inspection and certification of seeds. The Plant Analytics Unit performs the laboratory analyses on seeds.

The 90th anniversary of seed inspection will be celebrated in Evira's Loimaa Office on 1 September 2009. Guest speakers include e.g. the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Ms. Sirkka-Liisa Anttila, the Secretary-General of Evira, Dr. Jaana Husu-Kallio and Dr. Päivi Mannerkorpi from the European Commission/DG Health and Consumer Protection.

For more information, please contact:
Seed Inspection Unit
Head of Unit Hanna Kortemaa
tel. +358 (0) 40 833 2486

Plant Analytics Unit, Seed Laboratory
Head of Section Sinikka Köylijärvi
tel. +358 (0) 40 521 4761


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