Defra and the Scottish Government have re-awarded the contract to organise the statutory trials that are part of the National List system for approving new crop varieties to the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB) for a further five years.

The Society, which has organised Value for Cultivation and Use (VCU) testing and trials under official supervision for all crop species except potatoes since 2005, says the existing arrangement is the best way to provide cost-effective variety testing services for Government and industry alike. 

“Over the past 12 years, BSPB’s organisation of VCU trials has delivered savings to plant breeders and the wider industry by minimising the costs of variety registration and evaluation. Operating a dual-purpose system produces trials data for both the National List and Recommended List systems,” notes BSPB chief executive Dr Penny Maplestone.

“Before this system was agreed between the national authorities and industry stakeholders, the costs of statutory variety evaluation were spiralling out of control -separate trials programmes were carried out to generate information for NL and RL purposes.

 “Renewal of the BSPB contract by Defra and the Scottish Government provides confirmation that this remains the most efficient and flexible system of variety evaluation, reducing costs and duplication for the industry while also delivering an assurance of high quality and technically relevant trials data,” Dr Maplestone concludes.