Seed World



Regulating CSAAC Member Seed Testing Labs

Certified seed that is sold to producers has gone through a rigorous regulatory process before it goes to the field. The crop is regulated throughout the growing period and the fields are inspected before the crop is harvested. The seed is then sampled and sent for testing at an accredited lab. This is where government-approved seed testing labs enter the picture—to ensure the seed entering the market meets the purity and germination standards required.

How do you know that all of the seed being tested across Canada meets an approved, uniform standard? The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulates the labs through audits performed by the Canadian Seed Institute. Initially, a lab must design a quality assurance manual that includes the guidelines set out by CFIA. After receiving the lab’s application for accreditation, CFIA sends out an inspector to ensure the lab is following its quality manual and that the manual and lab meet all of the CFIA requirements. Sample proficiency testing is also done at this time. Successful seed testing laboratories are given a letter of accreditation and an accreditation number. Please look for this number on your seed testing certificates.

Accredited labs are audited by qualified auditors and technical experts from the CSI every three years. These experts conduct onsite inspections to ensure that labs are following the Quality Manual, the Seed Laboratory and Seed Accreditation Protocol, the Canadian Methods and Procedures for Testing Seed, the Canadian Seeds Act and Regulations, any industry regulations and the procedures and work instructions designed for each lab and its customers.

In its first year after accreditation, each lab performs internal monitoring to verify the analysts’ proficiency in testing seed against lab and regulatory standards. These records are available for review by the auditors. The following year, CFIA sends each lab up to three panels of three samples each to test the accuracy and consistency of the analysts’ and labs’ testing procedures. CFIA will inform the labs of any inconsistencies and corrective action which must be taken, and this too is monitored to ensure regulatory compliance.

In addition to the government-required monitoring of seed labs, some labs require that their seed analysts become members of the Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada. Member analysts are required by CSAAC to maintain educational standards to ensure that they are up-to-date with industry standards, and consistent in their seed testing procedures. Regular bulletins are sent out to members through the CSAAC office to ensure they become aware immediately of any changes in government regulations, so that seed is analyzed to the most current standard. The CFIA will often ask for input from CSAAC analysts to ensure that the regulations reflect what is happening in the seed industry. The discussions resulting from this relationship have proven to be beneficial to the industry, seed labs, government and producers.

Remember! Look for the lab’s CFIA accreditation number and the seal and signature of the accredited CSAAC member to ensure your seed has been analyzed to the highest standard.