Critical Issues for the Seed Industry - Pat Miller, ASTA

Discussions regarding Genetically Modified Organisms

Critical Issues for the Seed Industry - Pat Miller, ASTA

Postby buzz0x0000 » Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:17 pm

Critical Issues for the Seed Industry
presented by the American Seed Trade Association

ASTA Officers

Chairman - John Schoenecker, HM.CLAUSE, Davis CA
1st Vice Chairman - Risa DeMasi, Grassland Oregon, Salem OR
2nd Vice Chairman - Mark Herrman, Monsanto Vegetable Seed Division, Oxnard CA
President & CEO - Andy LaVigne, ASTA, Alexandria VA
Southern Regional VP – Alan Ostercamp, RiceTec, Alvin TX (

Key Themes

ASTA Supports Innovation
ASTA Supports Protecting the Environment
ASTA Supports Science-Based Policies
ASTA Supports Free Trade

ASTA Primary Strategic Initiatives

Intellectual Property Rights
Domestic Policy
State and Local Issues
International Programs
Membership and Internal Matters

Federal Issues

White House Pollinator Initiative

• Issue important to President Obama
• USDA and EPA drafting Pollinator Health Strategy (to be released early in 2015)
• Many other departments taking part:
o Interior, Transportation, Energy, Defense, General Services Administration, etc.
• ASTA Messages on Pollinator Forage and Nutrition:
o Practical solutions needed to increase pollinator forage
o Appropriate recommendations of regionally adapted seed mixes must take seed availability into account
o Long-term cooperation is needed between seed industry, US and state governments
o High quality and affordable seed

Interest in Cover Crops on the Rise

• ‘12 Ag Census reveals 10.2m acres of cover crops
• Many Cover Crop Initiatives
o Soil Health Initiative - NRCS
o Soil Health Partnership - Monsanto, NCGA, Nature Conservancy
o National Conference on Cover Crops – Howard Buffett Foundation and SARE
o Conservation Technology Information Center
o Soil Renaissance - Noble Foundation and Farm Foundation
• Role for ASTA
o Unified voice
o Value of purchasing quality seed
o Information sharing on federal and state government programs
o Support development of data
o Bring big and small companies together

Food Safety Modernization Act

• ASTA comments request exemption based on low risk and expense of compliance for seed screenings used in animal fee
• Final rule by June 30, 2015
• Remaining issue is facility registration
• Potential issues in states

Government Seed Procurement

Language in Interior Dept. appropriations bill includes ASTA language:

“Plant Conservation Program. The Committee is concerned that the Bureau’s policy of using highly
localized genetic varieties of native seeds may be unnecessarily limiting, driving up procurement costs,
and causing delays in re-seeding areas burned by fire. The Bureau is directed to publish its yearly
estimated seed needs by variety, to be more transparent with the science supporting its policy, and to
more clearly explain the policy in the fiscal year 2016 budget request.”

State Affairs

Biotech Labeling Legislation (100+ bills in 28 states filed in 2014)

• Why is Mandatory GMO Labeling a Bad Idea?
o Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) says that there is no significant difference in foods produced using bioengineering
o The World Health Organization, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, the U.K.’s Royal Society, the European Commission, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the American Medical Association concur (among many others)
• 2014 Biotech Labeling Action
o Vermont is the first state labeling bill to pass (other than the “contrived” CT & ME)
o Requires disclosure of genetic engineering at the point of retail sale of food and seed stock
o Provides that food or seed stock may not be labeled as natural if it has been genetically engineered.
o Grocery Manufacturers Association has filed suit
o Oregon and Colorado - GMO labeling initiatives held on November 4, 2014
 Colorado vote failed by a 2-1 margin
 Oregon vote lost by a little over 1% difference
o Similar referendums failed in California in 2012 and in Washington in 2013
o Kauai County Ordinance 2491 (Hawaii)
 Effectively banned GMO production and pesticide use on the island
 Three companies filed suit against Kauai County claiming illegal legislative processes, which were subsequently upheld – Kauai has filed an appeal
o Maui & Molokai Counties (Hawaii)
 On November 6th the citizens voted a temporary ban on genetically engineered crops from production in the counties until further research is conducted on public health and environmental impact
 Will halt agricultural production and research facilities on the island
o Federal GMO Labeling Legislation
 ASTA part of a coalition headed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association that has introduced federal legislation
 Goal is a federal solution to neutralize the need for a state-by-state approach
 Continuation of FDA’s role as America's leading food safety authority  sets national standards for the safety and labeling of products made with GMO ingredients

General Watch List for 2015

• Consistency of state laws and regulations
• GMO labeling & anti-technology initiatives
• Neonicotinoids Regulations & Pollinators
• Noxious weed & invasive species control
• Hemp regulations
• Funding of enabling state infrastructure
• Crop specific issues as they arise

Seed Lab Uniformity (coordinated with AOSA/SCST)


• Improve methods and strengthen analyst certification program
• Determine system for lab accreditation
• Review lab methodology with an initial emphasis on reclamation seed
• Standardize reporting of lab results
• Analyze necessary legislative/regulatory options to facilitate a strong testing system

International Issues

• ASTA enhances visibility of global seed movement issues
o USDA cooperator – work with embassies abroad with key focus:
 Intellectual property protection
 Science-based phytosanitary requirements
 Promotion of quality seed
 Seed treatments and amendments.
• Target countries – China, India, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. Members drive int’l agenda via the ASTA Int’l Executive Committee, country working groups, ISF and APSA meetings
• General Issues Related to All Seed Species
o For exports:
 Knowing and understanding phytosanitary import requirements of trading partners
• For U.S.-origin seed, APHIS maintains import requirements of most countries in PExD (; however:
• Many countries put additional or different requirements on import permits:
often pests added on the IP are not technically justified
• Different interpretations (often by state certifiers) of country import requirements
• Re-export certification issues
 Lack of harmonization of seed testing methods, treatments among trading partners
 Country requirements for pest risk assessments to be updated (existing market access), or conducted (new market access)
 Constant changes to phytosanitary import requirements, often without proper notification
 Occasional issues involving OECD seed tags, ISTA tags
o For imports:
 Growing concern from APHIS concerning seed transmitted pathogens:
• Recent introduction(s) of Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus have alerted APHIS to the problem
• APHIS /seed industry summit held last July to explore proactive solutions with industry
 Detections of pests in seed shipments at U.S. ports of entry
• ASTA Actions
o ASTA serves as both a technical resource and advocate for its members:
 To USDA -APHIS, USDA-AMS, states (National Plant Board), FAS, DHS, many others to help resolve seed movement problems
o ASTA has been actively involved in the development of the new international seed standard
 Addresses global problems with seed as a pathway, PRA, seed testing, harmonization & equivalency
o ASTA has an active international program:
 International Executive Committee, and 5 country working groups:
• Administer grant programs received competitively from USDA (approx. $500K/yr) which helps support overseas activities including new market development
• Organize and sponsor international workshops/meetings: phytosanitary, intellectual property protection, biotechnology
• Member-driven: become involved!
o ASTA has a Phytosanitary Committee
 Meets at the ASTA annual convention (June) and at the Vegetable and Flower Convention in January
 Meets periodically via conference call
 Sponsors a “phytosanitary session” at CSS
 Membership open to all ASTA members
• Current Phytosanitary Initiatives Initiated or Supported By ASTA
o New research project “Effects of Seed Quality management Practices on Phytosanitary Risk Reduction”
 Dr. Tim Gottwald, USDA-ARS
 Dr. Gary Munkvold, Iowa State University
 $850K/3 years (TASC grant) – 1st year funds received Oct 1, 2014
 Goal: quantify phytosanitary risk reduction associated with industry QM practices
o A model will be developed for companies to assess/improve their QM systems
o Scientific publications from this project plus the model will significantly change how countries conduct PRAs for seeds!
• APHIS Seed Summit (July 15-17, 2014)
Brought together 80 participants from USDA, universities, and the seed industry/ASTA (17) to:
o Begin a dialogue to explore and identify new/improved approaches to address/mitigate phytosanitary risk associated with seed transmitted pathogens
o Identify/address seed trade/export issues of concern to the industry
o Summit Outcomes
 Cross-functional working groups have been established for each topic area (Corn diseases, vegetable seed viruses/viroids, etc.)
• Approaches to reducing/managing phytosanitary risk will be a joint industry/APHIS effort!
• Approaches will be customized according to the specific issues associated with each topic
 APHIS is looking for voluntary industry actions that will significantly reduce the need to develop additional regulations
 A pilot project based on CGMMV is under construction:
• Voluntary accreditation program for seed companies (will include seed testing, traceability)
o Up to 10 companies to be in the pilot
o The accreditation will also serve as a brand for marketing
• Baseline monitoring of seed (to be implemented by USDA and States)
• Growers will be encouraged to only purchase seed tested for CGMMV
• CGMMV workshop planned for January, 2015

• Additional Initiatives
o Continued work (with ISF) on the development of the new international seed standard
 ASTA has worked with the IPPC and ISF for the last 6 years , resulting in the
development of a draft standard which has now gone through country consultation
• Delegations to IPPC annual meetings, seminars, side meetings, etc.
• ASTA was actively involved in developing 13 white papers, reviewing the draft and developing comments
• Adoption by the IPPC may occur in 2016
o Organization of joint industry/government cross border workshops with Mexico:
 4th workshop was held last September in Puerto Vallarta
• Major progress on harmonization of seed testing methods, pest risk analyses, export of seed needed in organic agriculture
o Efforts to resolve problems with seed export phytosanitary requirements with Brazil
(Normative 36 for commercial seed; Ordinance 59 for research seed)
 Next visit by ASTA to Brazil December 15-18: meetings with Brazil DSV, ABRASEM, APHIS, FAS scheduled
• If in doubt or need help, contact ASTA!
o Ric Dunkle - - 703-226-9275
o Michelle Klieger - - 703-837-8140

Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship

• Protecting Pollinators: What are we doing to protect pollinators and non-target organisms
• Key Stewardship Principles for Farmers
• Key Stewardship Principles for Seed Treatment Applicators
o Guide & supporting print media
o Videos
o Links to regulations and other resources

Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance

The Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance is a member driven organization dedicated to promoting the
understanding of the value of seed innovations and the need for protection and enforcement of
intellectual property rights that benefit growers, industry associates, consumers and the agricultural

• James Weatherly, Executive Director - - 970-492-1100

Invitation to Participate in ASTA

• ASTA provides opportunities to be a part of a larger effort on key seed industry issues.
• How do you want to impact the industry?
• What is important to you and your company’s future?
• Know a company that wants to make an impact on the future of the seed industry?
• Contact ASTA to contribute your expertise and have an impact on seed industry issues

Seed Advocates

ASTA’s “Seed Advocate” program provides representatives of the seed industry with opportunities to
inspire policymakers to support sound, science-based agricultural policies and fair trade practices and
better understand the seed industry

ASTA Meetings to Note

• CSS 2014 & Seed Expo, December 9-12, Chicago
• 54th Annual Vegetable & Flower Seed Conference, January 24-27, Tampa
• 2015 ASTA Annual Convention, June 17-20, Marriott Marquis, Washington DC

Thank You for your continued support!

American Seed Trade Association
(703) 837-8140
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What we keep getting is more technology. All we really want is just stuff that works.
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