Officials from the Department of Agriculture are engaging with industry with a view to “strengthening controls relating to wildflower seeds”, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said.
McConalogue was speaking in response to a parliamentary question from Dublin Fingal TD Duncan Smith this week on the issues with blackgrass.
“Teagasc recently reported that blackgrass weed was found in a commercial wildflower mixture that was grown in an experimental plot at its research centre in Oakpark, Carlow,” the Minister said.
"I understand that Teagasc has taken appropriate action to deal with the specific issue.
“There are no EU regulations governing the importation and certification of wildflower seeds. While the EU seed regulations cover certain weed and disease species, there are no specific controls relating to blackgrass.
“This also applies to third countries, including the UK, with which the EU has an equivalence agreement for trade in certified seed for the main agricultural crops," he added.
He also said that the Department has an agreement with the Irish Seed Trade Association (ISTA) to impose a zero tolerance for blackgrass, wild oats and sterile brome in certified seed grown in Ireland.
“Additionally, officials are engaging with the industry with a view to strengthening controls relating to wildflower seeds, both on imported seed for the formulation of species mixtures and seed propagated in Ireland for planting,” he said.
Wildflower seeds pulled from shelves
Earlier this month, the Irish Farmers Journal revealed that some wildflower seeds had been pulled from retail shelves as they were contaminated with blackgrass.
Germinal confirmed that a batch of wildflower seed mixtures sourced from England had contained blackgrass.
“We take this issue very seriously and to prevent any further problems we have taken the decision to cease the sale of wildflower mixtures grown in England,” a spokesperson for the company said.