Michael Keller Moves the International Seed Industry Toward Change

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Today, May 25, International Seed Federation Secretary General Michael Keller called for change during his first speech to the delegates of the 2015 World Seed Congress in Kraków, Poland.

“ISF is changing and we changed a lot this year,” Keller said. “Young and new people arrived, but we’ve also kept the expertise and that’s important.”

He emphasized that it’s important to be proud of the work done by predecessors throughout the federation’s 90 years of work. Keller asked participants if they knew what that meant. “It’s 90 years of life together, 90 years of promoting your interests,” he said. “It’s about the movement of seed — growing, cleaning, conditioning and marketing.”

Seed is moving around the world, which he illustrated by showing a map that one might initially think of as a global airline flight map. This is not an airline flight map; this is a map of seed movement today, he explained. “Welcome to the 21st century where we have more efficient breeding, an increased number of tools, increased political decisions, as well as trade and market issues,” Keller said. “We have a lot of challenges, but the role of ISF is to turn these challenges into opportunities.”

Keller emphasized the need for a common vision — regardless of company size, geographic region or seed sector. Keller’s vision is a “world where the best quality seed is accessible to all …”

He added that the staff and leadership at ISF are working to create the best environment for the global movement of seed and promote plant breeding and innovation in seed. “That’s where we are working,” he said. “That will be our daily work.”

He added that ISF must work to collaborate with national associations and with regional associations. “It’s about collaboration, integrity and innovation,” he said. “We have to be visible, be engaged and be proactive.”

Keller emphasized that plant breeding and innovation is one of ISF’s top priorities, along with seed applied technologies, the harmonization of phytosanitary measures, royalty collection, efficient intellectual property protection and the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing. “We need harmonization among countries, not over-regulation,” Keller said. “And we need an access and benefit sharing system that takes into account business; it’s not just about money.

“We are a strong association,” Keller concluded. “‘Seed is Life,’ that’s our motto and will be forever.”

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