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TSTA Weekly Newsletter, 10/19/2023TSTA weekly update, 10/19/2023

Oct 19

TSTA Weekly Update, 10/19/2023

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association

Member News


Membership renewals for 2023-2024 have been mailed, please look for them! And thank you to those who have already returned renewals!


Growout season is close! Please download a growout intention survey here and return it to the TSTA office via email attachment. It's important to have a reasonable idea of the acreage we'll be needing this winter.


Last year's growouts in Costa Rica were the best ever and the Gan Eden Farm in Puerto Rico does a great job year after year. Send your seed to either, or both, locations with confidence.


Join the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) this December 5 - 8, 2023 at our NEW venue, the Hyatt Regency Orlando, for the Field Crop Seed Convention, an unparalleled seed business networking and educational opportunity. Gathering over 2,000 attendees from 36 countries, the Field Crop Seed Convention (formerly known as the CSS & Seed Expo) is THE place to see and be seen amongst the global community of companies working in all field crops, from corn and soybean, to wheat, rice, cotton, sorghum and so much more. Now in Orlando, after 77 years in Chicago, our new venue offers any and all seed industry stakeholders a wealth of new opportunities, in a central hub of exhibits, sessions and private meeting rooms all in one combined meeting space area. 

Visit the conference home page to learn more


The 35th Annual Texas Plant Protection Conference will be December 5 & 6 at the Brazos Center in Bryan, Texas. Click here for more info and to register


The Western Seed Association annual meeting is now accepting registrations. Click here to register.

In an effort to update and maintain our membership records we request you take a few moments and fill out the very brief info request at the following link.


The link is secure and the information will be used internally by the Texas Seed Trade Association and never shared without your permission. This request is on behalf of your association's board of directors and officers and we greatly appreciate your cooperation. Thank you!


10/19/2023 - If you have not updated your information please take a moment and do so now. We appreciate it! We continue to update this database and need your input!

Arkansas just became the first state to force a Chinese state-owned company to sell its land and get out

Harris Rigby


Arkansas is kicking out a Chinese-owned seed company in a first-of-its-kind action.

Across the US, these types of laws meant to protect American technology from Chinese Communist spies have been put in place. But Arkansas is the first state to officially order a Chinese company, Syngenta Seeds, to divest its land in Arkansas and get out.

The company that owns Syngenta, ChemChina, is also on the Department of Defense's list of Chinese military companies posing a clear threat to our state.
Seeds are technology. Chinese state-owned corporations filter that technology back to their homeland, stealing American research and telling our enemies how to target American farms. That is a clear threat to our national security and to our great farmers.

Governor Sanders goes on to talk about a 2017 Chinese law that required Chinese citizens abroad to talk with Chinese intel sources back home on their work, "no questions asked."


It's a mandate for Chinese nationals to spy on American technology.


There's no reason for China to own land in Arkansas when all it's doing is giving our foreign adversary a distinct advantage over us and, as the governor pointed out, threatening our national security.


Arkansas' Attorney General is taking this action against China.

The enforcement action by Arkansas' attorney general is the first under the wave of new laws, many of which specifically targeted investments from China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, said Micah Brown, a staff attorney at the agricultural law center.
"Historically, states that had a law before this year, there wasn't much enforcement," said Micah Brown, a staff attorney at the agricultural law center.

The state can take action in court if this order is not followed. Arkansas is also fining Syngenta $280,000 because it did not report that it was a foreign-owned company which is required under a 2021 law.

The AG has full confidence that Syngenta will pay the fine and sell off its lands.


Editor's Note: Syngenta was, once, a long-standing member of the Texas Seed Trade Association (when a Swiss company). They have declined membership in our association since the time of their acquisition by ChemChina.

News Bits


The U.S. soybean harvest has surged past the halfway point. That followed mixed conditions last week, including weekend rains in some areas, with generally mixed weather in the forecast for the region this week.


As of Sunday, the USDA says 62% of U.S. soybeans are harvested, compared to the five-year average of 52%, with 97% of the crop dropping leaves and 52% in good to excellent shape, up 1% on the week.


45% of corn is harvested and 95% is mature, both ahead of average, with 53% of corn called good to excellent, unchanged from last week.


68% of winter wheat has been planted, matching the typical pace, and 39% has emerged, compared 43% on average.


33% of cotton is harvested and 87% of bolls have opened, each close to their usual rates, with 30% of the crop in good to excellent condition, down 2%.


88% of rice is harvested, equal to the five-year average.


53% of sorghum is harvested and 92% is mature, a little bit faster than normal for mid-October, while 42% of the crop is rated good to excellent, steady with a week ago.


33% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are good to excellent, a decline of 2%.


The USDA's weekly crop progress and condition reports run through November.


AgriBusiness Global reports:


European Union governments failed on Friday to give a decisive opinion on a proposal to extend by 10 years EU approval for the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Bayer AG's Roundup weedkiller, reports Reuters.


A "qualified majority" of 15 countries representing at least 65% of the bloc's population had been required either to support or to block the proposal.


The European Commission said in a statement there was no qualified majority either way in a vote by a committee of the EU's 27 members.


To read the entire article click here.

Major Policy Changes on November 7th Ballot

 TSTA Staff

There are 14 propositions on the November 7th ballot that address a variety of major issues for Texas voters to consider. Among them are the right to engage in agriculture; authorize a Texas energy fund; create a fund to build and improve state parks; authorize a broadband infrastructure fund; provide a cost-of-living adjustment to eligible retirees of the Teachers Retirement System; create a water fund to assist the financing of water projects in the state; increase the homestead exemption; and, authorize the exemption from ad valorem taxation of equipment and inventory held by medical and biomedical product manufacturers.


Below is the brief description of each constitutional amendment on the general election ballot. Early voting will be held October 23rd through November 3, 2023.


Proposition 1 Right to Farm & Ranch to add the right to engage in farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management to Article I of the Texas Constitution.


Proposition 2 Local Option Exemption for a county or municipality to waive a portion or all ad valorem taxes for a child-care facility.


Proposition 3 Prohibition on individual wealth or net worth tax by the Legislature including a tax on the difference between the assets and liabilities of an individual or family.


Proposition 4 Changes to property tax-related provisions including the authorization of a temporary cap on non-homestead real property valuations; an increase of homestead exemptions by a school district from $40,000 to $100,000; an increase of exemptions for elderly and disabled property owners; exceptions for certain appropriations used to pay for tax relief from constitutional limitations on rate of growth appropriations; and, authorizing the Legislature of a county with a population of 75,000 or more to limit the terms of appraisal board members to four years.


Proposition 5 Creation of the Texas University Fund to support additional funding for the state universities that do not have access to the Permanent University Fund and provide the state workforce with access to more nationally recognized research institutions.


Proposition 6 Creation of the Texas water fund to assist in the financing of water projects in the state.


Proposition 7 Creation of the Texas energy fund to finance the modernization and operation of electric generating facilities.


Proposition 8 Creation of the broadband infrastructure fund to expand and assist in high-speed broadband access financing of connectivity projects.


Proposition 9 Authorization of a cost-of-living adjustment to qualified recipients of the Teacher Retirement System.


Proposition 10 Authorization of an ad valorem exemption to manufacturers of medical and biomedical products for equipment and inventory.


Proposition 11 Issuance of bonds by El Paso County for conservation and reclamation districts to develop and maintain parks and recreational facilities.


Proposition 12 Abolition of the office of country treasurer in Galveston County.

Proposition 13 The increase of the mandatory age of retirement for state justices and judges. Minimum age to retire will be raised to 75; mandatory age will be increased to 79.

Proposition 14 Creation of the centennial parks conservation fund to be used to develop and improve state parks.

Science wins as Kenyan court dismisses landmark case against GMOs

Alliance for Science - Godfrey Ombogo


Kenya is now free to roll out the cultivation and importation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) after the Environment Court dismissed the case challenging the same.


In a judgment delivered on October 12, 2023, the court said the petitioners did not provide evidence that GMOs harm the environment or human health.


“This court has not been shown any evidence to show that the respondents and the institutions named have breached the laws, regulations, and guidelines about GM foods, and in particular the approval of their release in the environment, cultivation, importation, and exportation of Bt maize,” said Justice Oscar Angote, who delivered the judgment virtually.


Big win for scientists, farmers and Kenyans

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) filed the case on January 16, 2023. It was challenging the Kenyan government’s October 22 order lifting a 10-year ban on the cultivation and importation of GM crops.


Prof Richard Oduor, the chair of Kenya University Biotech Consortium (Kubico) and Acting Registrar, Research, Innovation and Outreach at Kenyatta University, said he was “overly excited” by the judgment, as it was a big win not just for scientists but also for farmers and Kenyans in general.


“I am thrilled. The farmers will now have the opportunity to sample the technology we have been developing and increase their crop yields,” Prof Oduor said on the phone. “I am grateful to the Kenyan government for finally allowing us to see how we can use this technology to benefit us, farmers, and this country.”


Prof Oduor said the GMO technology has survived for nearly 30 years, and Kenya can borrow a leaf from other countries that have tested its efficacy and safety and adopted it.


“The first GMO product was commercialized in 1994. We cannot be here as a country still discussing a technology commercialized 29 years ago. It’s becoming redundant very soon.,” he said. “There are examples all over the world; there are countries that have used it. At least we have had 30 years, post-release, of understanding this technology and so-called environmental impact.”

Done without an Environmental Impact Assessment report


The case raised several issues, including whether GMOs in general and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) maize in particular are safe and whether there was public participation before the Cabinet dispatch lifting the ban was released.


There was also an allegation that GM maize cultivation, importation, and exportation were undertaken without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report.


The court found that the petitioner did not challenge the domestic and international laws governing GMOs and that the regulatory barriers that govern the importation and cultivation of GMOs remain in force and are presumed to be constitutional until otherwise proved.


“The evidence before me shows that the country has put in place a robust framework with inbuilt structures, which must be met before they consider and determine applications for approval of the transfer, handling, and use of GMOs,” said Justice Angote.


Intended to guarantee protection


The judge said that in addition to the Biosafety Act 2009 and regulations, the National Biosafety Authority (NBA), which was the second respondent, has adopted guidelines that govern the procedures for environmental release and placing of the market of GMOs, the procedure for receiving, administrative screening and handling GMOs.


“All of these are intended to guarantee protection of the right to a clean and healthy environment,” he said.


According to NBA, Kenya has approved 58 GMO projects – 40 for contained use in the laboratory or greenhouse, 15 for confined field trials, and three for environmental release or commercial cultivation.


The three that have been approved for commercial cultivation are Bt cotton, which was commercialized in January 2020; Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn, which was approved by NBA in October 2022 and is now awaiting submission to the National Variety Release Committee (NVRC); and virus-resistant cassava, which is undergoing National Performance Trials by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS).


Developed and approved


Four varieties of Bt cotton have been recommended for release by the National Performance Trials Committee (NPTC). At the same time, six have undergone NPT and Distinctness, Uniformity, and Stability (DUS) testing, but the court case had slammed the breaks on their release.


With the court case now settled, scientists and the National Biosafety Authority now have the authority to release the variety of GM crops that have been developed and approved and create more as the country struggles with food security challenges.

One more consolidated case by lobby groups is still pending before the High Court.


In Africa, at least ten countries have GM crop approvals, with South Africa approving GM cotton, corn, and soybeans, and Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Eswatini, and Malawi allowing pest-resistant cotton, cowpea, corn, and brown streak virus-resistant cassava.


Dr James Karanja, a research officer from Kalro, says the TELA Bt corn is the answer to Kenya’s food insecurity situation because it has a guaranteed yield of 10 more bags per acre without pesticide use. It also assures quality grain and reduces aflatoxin contamination.


“Corn production in Kenya has decreased by 35 percent from 2018 to 2022 because there is no insect- or pest-tolerant variety in the market,” said Dr Karanja during a recent meeting between Kenyan editors and biotechnology experts in Nairobi.


Collaborate closely with the Department of Public Health


According to the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU), food insecurity is a recurring issue, with 3.2 million Kenyans in the arid and semi-arid regions facing high levels of acute food insecurity as of September 2022.


According to a report by the Alliance for Science, in 2018, 18 million farmers in 26 African countries chose to grow GM crops, which helped to reduce poverty and hunger by benefitting more than 65 million people.


Justice Angote urged Kenyans to trust the institutions put in place and call them to order if they breach the law.


“The Biosafety Act stipulates that the National Biosafety Authority should collaborate closely with the Department of Public Health, which safeguards consumers’ health through food safety and quality control,” said the judge.


Editor's Note: Kenya is a long way away, and perhaps you've never sold seed into East Africa. Nevertheless this is big news - finally. Advances in plant breeding techniques have been slow to benefit many of the world's neediest populations in some of the most food poor geographies. Anti--technology zealots, in this specific case primarily Europeans who have plenty of disposable income for "natural" foods, have endeavored to prevent technology acceptance by countries like Kenya. This was, and is, a political opinion rather than reasoning via science. Fortunately Kenyans decided that the science should dictate policy and the result will be more abundant, more affordable food for their growing population.



Genetic mapping of quantitative trait loci associated with drought tolerance in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.)


Read the article here



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The articles, views, and opinions expressed in the Weekly Update do not necessarily reflect the policies of the Texas Seed Trade Association or the opinions of its members.