Seed health: fostering the safe distribution of maize and wheat seed - general guidelines
CIMMYT has a global mandate for the improvement of wheat and maize, and it is also responsible for conserving the germplasm of these crops. CIMMYT’s germplasm improvement programs rely heavily on the free international exchange of maize and wheat seed. All concerned institutions, cooperators contributors and regulating authorities must have confidence in the safety of both imported and exported seed to facilitate such exchange. CIMMYT is fully committed to maintaining fundamental health standards in its worldwide operations. These standards are dictated at different levels by the International Plant Protection Convention (FAO 1997 https://www.ippc.int/en/), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA, FAO 2002), and by the CGIAR (SGRP-CGIAR, 2010). Seed borne or seed associated pathogens and pests can be carried on the seed surface (such as fungi and bacteria), in the seed (infecting the internal tissues, fungi bacteria and viruses) and with the seed (insects, nematodes, resting spores of fungi such as bunts, sclerotia of Claviceps spp.). In all cases, regardless of the location on the seed or if the pathogens can be transmitted to the new formed plant directly from the infested seed, there are species of quarantine and economic importance. On many occasions quarantine requirements are obsolete or not scientifically based. That is why it is important for CIMMYT to apply updated standards that will help to prevent any pathogen dissemination around the world. At the same time, it is important to avoid generating alarm among our collaborators and among country phytosanitary authorities. When new information on the presence of a new pathogen or of the increased relevance of an already present pathogen in a certain area is obtained it is always necessary to confirm the source and to contact a local reliable plant pathologist to investigate the situation and evaluate the level of risk involved. The aim of this document is to provide general guidelines to foster safe germplasm movement from and to CIMMYT offices. These guidelines may contain a lot of “common sense” information that it can be handy to have available and easy to consult. The information related to the country requirements will be updated yearly, and new sources of information and references will also be added.