SOC: Official service for control and certification of seeds and plants
SOC (official service for control and certification of seeds and plants) is a dedicated technical service in charge of the public mission entrusted to GNIS, in application of French regulation. SOC inspects and certifies seeds and seedlings, namely crop and vegetable seeds, seed potatoes, vegetable planting materials, and strawberry plants.
Based on EU rules, the French Ministry of Agriculture adopts technical regulations(page in French) that deal with the production, control, and certification of seeds and planting materials.
SOC’s job is to verify compliance with these regulations. The department is run by a senior state official who is appointed by the Ministry for Agriculture.
The Head of SOC:
- is responsible for the proper implementing of the control and certification tasks;
- is the unique holder of decision-making power over all SOC activities and is the only one authorized to delegate decision-making power over SOC’s activities;
- relies on a team of national technical referents and a staff distributed among the 6 regional GNIS delegations, according to the roles and responsibilities described in the decision-making chain of SOC(page in French).
SOC is also entrusted with the ability to control the phytosanitary requirement for seeds and planting materials movements: SOC is responsible for issuing European plant passports (within the EU) and phytosanitary inspections needed to deliver phytosanitary certificates (export outside the EU).
On the authority of a governmental senior official temporary assigned to GNIS, SOC is organized as a certification body and carries out its regulatory responsibilities in such a way that policymakers and operators can trust that the inspection process is transparent, independent, and impartial. SOC is accredited as a certification body by the French Accreditation Committee (COFRAC) in accordance with the international standard NF EN ISO/CEI 17065. SOC’s accreditation certificate is available online (www.cofrac.fr/en; File 5-0506).