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Plants: UK Internal Trade

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 37604, tabled on 21 July 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to streamline the plant passport system.

Answered on

6 September 2021

The plant passport system exists to protect our industry and our natural environment from plant pests and diseases, and to ensure consumers receive the highest standard of products. It also helps maintain the UK’s reputation as a nation with high plant health standards, with businesses from which plants and plant products can be sourced reliably and safely. We have worked with key stakeholder groups through our Plant Health Advisory Forum to ensure that policies are pragmatic and minimise burden to businesses where possible, while protecting biosecurity, and we have taken a number of measures to streamline the plant passport system.

For example, we allow single plant passports to cover trolleys of mixed plants and plant products when they are supplied to retailers, to avoid operators having to label each individual plant. This system maintains the traceability of such plants and plant products without unnecessarily impacting businesses. We have also introduced a free e-learning module for traders to use to make compliance with the plant passport system easier.

It has also been communicated that amateurs and hobbyists do not need to issue plant passports. Therefore, home gardeners growing plants to be given to charity or to swap with other home gardeners (with no intention of making profit) do not need to be authorised to issue plant passports, acknowledging that regulating such plants movements would be disproportionate to the biosecurity risk involved.

Pre-printing of many plant passports is also made simpler because traceability codes on plant passports are not required on plants ready for sale to the final consumer, but only on plants for commercial growing on.

Furthermore, under EU legislation plant passports of ‘Protected Zone’ commodities were supplied to consumers in all cases, even face to face sales in retail outlets. In Great Britain this is no longer required as we believe that such a policy would be overly burdensome and disproportionate to the biosecurity risk. Since leaving the EU we have also removed the need for some commodities which are of a low plant health risk in Great Britain, such as rice seed and citrus fruit with leaves, to be passported.

Finally, we intend to consult stakeholders on the introduction of electronic plant passports to ensure that legislation to enable their implementation is fit for purpose. Introduction of an electronic plant passport system would give operators more options in how to participate in the plant passport system.

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