b'crossing agreements between breeders, and for commercial sales, says Wood. In addition, we have challenges with the National List, as there are 200 variety applications which are delayed over one year. All this leads to an extra administrative and cost burden. He explains that the delays in National Listing approvals means a loss of income and a less competitive UK farming sector. Theres an extra cost of DUS testing, and at the same time a reduction of innovation that is reaching the UK farmers, Wood says. He says that the differences in seed treatments between the UK and the EU also lead to a less competitive UK farming sector. There are a few things that the UK seed sector should avoid, says Guest. We need to avoid becoming isolated, becoming slow to innovate, becoming an unattractive marketplace for investment or an expensive place for food production.Food prices in all EU countries and the UK trended upwards starting in mid-2022, as a result of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The resulting severe shortages in the agri-food chain, led to higher consumer prices. And since food price levels depend on the food production process, it also affects the seed sector, so the BSPB is keeping a close watch on developments.Steph Spiers, BSPB Business Operations Manager.Where the prices in EU countries started to go down again in the first quarter of 2023, the UK still saw rising food prices. Adverse weather in production regions elsewhere, and extra bureaucracy associated with Brexit, caused food shortages of certain products and empty shelves for specific vegetables and fruits in the past year. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel: according to retail industry statistics, food prices finally dropped in the UK in September 2023 for the first month in almost two years, offering consumers some respite amid the cost-of-living crisis. The differ-ences in food availability and prices between the UK and EU should not go unnoticed by the seed industry and regulatory bodies says Wood. Because our farmers and growers are often working across several countries in order to supply retailers or the wider food industry with high quality products all the year round and more cheaply, it means that they look to breeders for access to innovative and sustainable genetics (varieties) that perform in a wide range of environments, that they can use with minimal interference, across international borders.We are aware of the situation, and it is getting better now, but it will remain on our radar screen for some time, says Spiers.A CLEAR PICTUREThe BSPB has a clear picture of how it needs to move forward. We need to be active in addressing and adapting to issues and changes that are introduced by the UK leaving the EU. And this is done through cooperation with other industry groups andChris Guest, BSPB Deputy Chairman.associations, says Wood. Spiers agrees and adds that the BSPB needs to maintain its EU and international relationships to promote and position the UKThis should lead to a refreshed communication strategy, as we plant breeding sector.cant afford to do nothing and our members are fundamental to our This means [we need to] continue to participate in the meetingssociety, says Guest.and congresses of Euroseeds and the International Seed FederationAll the work we do is in support of many things, such as food (ISF), she adds. production and food security in the UK, the competitiveness of UK To continue improving the services to its members, the BSPBfarmers and growers, but also much broader, such as environmental in the coming months will review its communication strategies andchallenges, increased sustainability and the preservation of biodi-its policies, including seeking feedback from its members.versity, says Wood.SEEDWORLD.COM/EUROPEISEED WORLD EUROPE I 35'