Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Rule change unlocks national seed bank

A new government agreement is promising to speed up the development of new forage cultivars by enabling faster access to imported seed lines in New Zealand’s national grassland seed bank.

A major change in regulations controlling post-entry quarantine of seeds has been announced following negotiations between AgResearch and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The rule change allows the release of imported seeds of the main grasses of importance to New Zealand – (ryegrasses, fescues and several others – without a post-entry growth period in a quarantine glasshouse.

Zane Webber of the Margot Forde Germplasm Centre, who led the negotiations for AgResearch, said that the new regulations enable the Centre to be used to its full potential as a national seed bank of grassland plants and better serve the pastoral research community.

“We welcome this change in the regulations as it will enable researchers and plant breeders to gain quicker and less expensive access to germplasm, but still ensure a rigorous level of biosecurity is maintained,” Webber said.

“It reduces the upfront financial costs and time involved in using material from the Centre, and will break down what has up until now been a major barrier to exploratory research.

“The Centre is not a museum of seeds; it is intended to be an active collection, and this enables it to be used at such. We now have regulations that ensure a good level of access for people that need it while mitigating the risks.”

The seed can only be released to bona fide researchers and plant breeders who sign an agreement to undertake monitoring and documentation of the plants derived from the seed and to report anything unusual.

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