Scottish Agricultural Science Agency
The Scottish Agricultural Science Agency (SASA) was an executive agency of the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department. In 2008 – after a review of the public sector in Scotland – the agency was 'reabsorbed' into the Scottish Government becoming a division of the Rural Affairs Department. The new name of Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture was chosen so that the commonly used acronym 'SASA' could be maintained. The work conducted by the organisation and its facilities remain the same. The Agency has responsibility for providing scientific evidence for the implementation and enforcement of legislation and regulations in the areas of crops and environmental protection. It provides scientific advice and support on a range of agricultural and environmental topics to the Scottish Government. The organisation is based at Roddinglaw on the Western edge of the City of Edinburgh.
From 1925 to 2006 the Agency and its precursors were based at East Craigs in Edinburgh. The Agency was first formed by the then Board of Agriculture for Scotland. The origins of SASA can be traced back to the opening of a full-time seed testing station in 1914 at 21 Duke Street, Edinburgh. Following the introduction of the Testing of Seeds Order 1917, the unit moved to larger premises at 7 Albany Street in 1918. In May 1925 the Seed Testing Station moved to new purpose built laborotaries at East Craigs along with the Plant registration Station. The Board of Agriculture changed its name to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAFS) in 1960, and in 1961 the operations at East Craigs were renamed Agricultural Scientific Services of DAFS. In 1992, the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency (SASA) was formed as an executive agency taking on the role of Agricultural Scientific Services for the then Scottish Office. Following devolution in Scotland, the Agency became a part of the Environment and Rural Affairs Department. In 2000 SASA began developing plans to relocate from East Craigs due to the age of the facilities and the demands put upon them by new technologies, a suitable site was eventually identified on the Agency's own farm at Roddinglaw. SASA finally relocated to purpose built facilities at Roddinglaw in 2006. As of April 2008 SASA ceased to be an agency and became a division of the Rural affairs department, this forced a change of name, however to maintain the established acronym the name Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture was chosen.
Over the years the Role of SASA has expanded greatly.
The Role of SASA is as follows:
- Ensuring the quality of seeds and tubers for planting, and new crop varieties;
- Keeping field and horticultural crops free of damaging diseases;
- Keeping serious pests of plants out of Scotland;
- Acting as the Scottish Executive's Inspectorate of genetically modified crops;
- Developing new and more sensitive diagnostic tests for pests and diseases;
- Preserving and maintaining a wide range of historic, heritage and other varieties of potatoes, cereals, peas and brassicas;
- Monitoring the pesticide load in the national diet, and the pattern of use of pesticides in Scotland;
- Protecting wildlife against deliberate or accidental poisoning
- Understanding the ecology of vertebrate species that conflict with agriculture (e.g. rabbits, foxes, geese).