Big Issues Tackled at Third Seed Congress of the Americas
“I’m very pleased with the number of people that travelled to Santiago, Chile for this meeting and extremely impressed with the number of high-level executives who participated in the discussions. Our main goal was to set a focus on seed treatments and offer an overview of the global status of seed care technologies. The feedback we have received is that the congress was very informative for attendees and the trading floor was a huge success,” says Diego Risso, secretary general, Seed Association of the Americas. “SAA continues to expand the relationship between regulators and industry with more than 10 countries represented. These meetings allow us to discuss new and existing regulations that impact the seed industry, which is, of course, a very unique industry. Phytosanitary decisions made in individual countries have extreme impact on the entire SAA group. One of the highlights for me was that we were able to pull together a group of stakeholders to address recent regulations that may have considerable negative impact on the movement of seed within the Americas. We also had two days of closed-door meetings prior to the congress with regulators and industry identifying key areas of concern and dialogue on low level presence. This presentation is available on the SAA website.”
According to Andy LaVigne, president and CEO of the American Seed Trade Association, “One key take-away for me was a stronger awareness of the commitment from the government bodies and seed industry throughout the region to find solutions with respect to a consistent low level presence policy for the SAA region; support for continued resolution of phytosanitary conflicts throughout the region; and the interest of all parties in the region to address issues concerning the movement of treated seed as that technology continues to increase.”
“There are way too many other people selling what you’re selling; therefore, you need to market, promote and hustle like never before. The key is to sell the service you provide to your customers instead of simply selling what you have.”—Donald Cooper of the Donald Cooper Corporation
Will Europe Lose All Modern Plant Breeding Techniques?
“We look at [genetically modified crops] as a technology. It’s one additional tool in the breeder’s toolbox. And that tool has proven to be a mighty effective one worldwide… Europe’s regulatory system in this area, as we all know, isn’t working. We have no authorizations for such crops so there’s a growing divide between the regulatory systems in, for example, the United States, Canada, South America and other parts of the world, and what is happening in Europe … the zero tolerance policy of the European Union is clearly something that is completely unacceptable to us … if we don’t defend this technology, we might lose other modern plant breeding technologies in the future. There is currently a debate in Europe on these new breeding techniques—cisgenesis, synthetic biology, reverse breeding and many more—and whether or not these should be classified and regulated as GM crops. If they were, we feel the outcome would be similar—the absence of these technologies from Europe, resulting in large-level imports of crops from other parts of the world, where these techniques will be adopted, implemented and regulated in a much more pragmatic way,” says Garlich von Essen. For more views from von Essen on the European seed industry, visit SeedWorld.com.
Shortage of Native Grass Seed
“Certain varieties will be in short supply, but the overall basic species of grass should be available,” said Dennis Lutgen, one of the owners of Star Seed, Inc., in an article in The Republic. Star Seed is an Osborne, Kan.-based supplier that has 2,700 acres of native grass production contracted with growers in north-central Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. Lutgen expected native grass seed prices to increase anywhere from 20-40 percent due to fewer pounds harvested per acre because of limited rainfall and competition for seed production acres from competing farm crops.
Stabilizing America’s Biofuel Production
“The Renewable Fuel Standard is working as Congress intended to increase U.S. energy security and economic competitiveness by opening the fuels market to advanced biofuels … But this progress could be threatened by political uncertainty about continuing the RFS. Some special interest groups are threatening this progress and creating additional uncertainty by calling for an end to the RFS,” stated Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the BIO’s industrial and environmental section, in a press release. “The RFS is a critically important tool for ensuring that fuel markets will be open to new advanced technology as it becomes commercially available and cost competitive. Any drastic legislative changes to the RFS, followed by additional years of new rulemaking, can only create fresh challenges for these companies and serve to hinder development of the technology.” BIO has submitted documents to the House Science Energy and Environment Subcommittee for a hearing on Motor Fuel Standards.