Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Danisco Seed (O44)

  Danisco Seed is an international company with its headquarters are in Denmark. It is part of Danisco A/S—one of the world's largest producers of ingredients for food and beverages.

  Danisco Seed supplies new varieties of sugar beet seed to the UK and other European markets. The UK market is of strategic importance due to its relatively large size and willingness to grow new varieties once they have proved in trials that they are an improvement over the current varieties.


  Danisco Seed supports Option 1 of the EU proposals for reform of the sugar regime.

  The UK beet sugar production industry is highly integrated and efficient. There is a high level of co-operation between the sugar beet growers, the supply industries and the sugar producer. The UK industry as a whole has benefited, becoming one of the most efficient producers in Europe. The UK consumer has benefited from the availability of a safe, high quality product, grown and produced with a high degree of environmental safety and low food miles.


  1.  Sugar beet varieties and seed have a long product development cycle. Using current traditional breeding methods, it can take 10-15 years to develop a new variety to the point where it is ready to introduce into UK statutory registration trials.

  2.  The UK area has decreased over the last 10 years, largely due to varietal improvement and increased productivity throughout the industry. A further decline in the UK crop area would reduce the attractiveness of the UK market to the seed companies. This would reduce the amount of research and development work invested in developing varieties for this market.

  3.  A stable and profitable market is required to stimulate investment in developing new varieties. Any stagnation or decline of the beet sugar industry due to EU policy would be exacerbated by reduced innovation from the seed companies.

  4.  If the focus was taken off the UK market by the seed companies, it would be difficult to see how the position could be recovered in the future.

  5.  Many future requirements, such as improved disease tolerance, improved drought tolerance, reduced environmental impact and improved productivity can only be met by genetic improvement of varieties. The work of the seed companies is fundamental to the future of the sugar beet crop.

30 March 2004

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