Since 1958, the OECD Seed Schemes are open to OECD countries as well as other U.N. Members. 58 countries participate. The OECD certification is applied to varieties satisfying Distinction, Uniformity and Stability conditions, having an agronomic value, and published in official lists. The annual List of Varieties eligible for OECD Certification includes about 49 000 varieties from 200 species.
The Seed Schemes deal with the following species: Grasses and Legumes, Crucifers and other Oil or Fibre species, Cereals, Maize and Sorghum, Sugar and Fodder Beet, Subterranean clover and similar species, Vegetables. The technical requirements are comprised in the Rules and Regulations of the OECD Seed Schemes. All Schemes aim at seed certification (the Vegetable Scheme provides also for "Standard Seed" which are not certified but only controlled).
The Schemes ensure the varietal identity and purity of the seed through appropriate requirements and controls throughout the cropping, seed processing and labelling operations. Ex: Generation control (Pre-basic, Basic and Certified seed), isolation distances, purity standards, field inspections, lot sampling, post-control plots, compulsory official laboratory analysis for each certified seed lot.
The OECD certification provides for official recognition of "quality-guaranteed" seed, thus facilitating international trade and contributing to the removal of technical trade barriers.
Similar principles and technical requirements are also widely used for national seed certification.