A diverse group of seed-industry leaders, representing companies of all sizes, sectors and geographies, were gathered in Washington, D.C. for the American Seed Trade Association’s (ASTA) annual Storm the Hill legislative fly-in, April 2-3. Topping the list of 2019 legislative priorities are innovation, trade and agriculture research funding.
“Virtually everything in life starts with a seed, and so many things we enjoy as a society today—from our food, to our clothes, to the fuel that powers our cars—are the direct result of continued seed improvement over the years,” said ASTA President & CEO Andy LaVigne. “As our world faces growing environmental and food production pressures, seed innovation is critical to a sustainable future. The policies being made today in Washington, D.C. will have major impacts on the seed industry’s ability to continue to meet domestic and global challenges in the years ahead. That’s why we’re so excited to be in our nation’s capital making our voices heard on issues that impact not just the seed industry, but all of society.”
"Plant breeding innovation offers exciting potential for our planet, our health and our food. Breeding methods like gene editing can be accessible to all breeding programs—of every crop and size—and to both the public and private breeding sectors. In order to fully realize the potential of evolving methods, policy must be based on the end-product, not the breeding method itself. If newer breeding methods result in plant varieties that are the same or indistinguishable from varieties developed through more traditional methods, they should not be treated differently from a regulatory perspective. It is critical that USDA, EPA and FDA are coordinated in their policies surrounding plant breeding innovation, and that the U.S. takes a leadership role in working towards policy alignment at the global level."
"Seed is a global industry, with U.S. exports totaling $1.9 billion in 2018. Seed exports to the U.S.’ largest markets—Mexico and Canada—combined for a total of $630 million last year. ASTA urges swift passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) agreement which: strengthens science-based sanitary and phytosanitary regulations; provides strong intellectual property protections, including adoption of UPOV 91 requirements; and promotes innovation by harmonizing the agricultural biotechnology trait approval process."
"Building on other targeted fly-ins throughout the year, ASTA members will be reinforcing the need for continued funding for USDA agriculture research, including critical programs like the Germplasm Enhancement of Maize (GEM) program and the National Plant Germplasm System. GEM is a unique public-private partnership between the federal government, universities and companies of all sizes, GEM supports global food security by promoting genetic diversity in corn."
ASTA members representing 15 states participated in a total of more than 70 meetings on Capitol Hill.