56 / SEEDWORLD.COM JUNE 2018 Seed World: Favorite film? Ric Dunkle: My latest favorite is “I Can Only Imagine.” SW: Best way to spend a Friday night? RD: Snuggling with my wife on the couch chowing down popcorn! SW: Who was your most notable mentor? RD: I have been fortunate to have had terrific mentors throughout my career. In addition to my dad who taught me common sense and how to fix and build things, I would say my major professor in graduate school, Dr. Frank Strong. He told me many times that once I got that graduate degree, it didn’t mean that I was necessar- ily an expert in my area of study; it primarily meant that I demon- strated an ability to learn ... SW: How did you get into phytosanitary issues? RD: It began when I became the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) deputy administrator in 1999. One of the responsibilities of that position was to represent the fed- eral government as the U.S. delegate (head of National Plant Protection Organization) to the International Plant Protection Convention, which is the international body responsible for devel- oping and adopting international phytosanitary standards that member countries (now 183) use to regulate agricultural trade. SW: Biggest problem with moving seed internationally? RD: Since my tenure with ASTA, international seed movement has grown tremendously and has become much more com- plex. Many countries have likewise observed this trend and have been imposing additional phytosanitary requirements, often for pests that are not technically justified according to IPPC criteria. For example, for tomato seed, there are over 200 pathogens that are regulated around the world; and to further add to this complexity, companies also conduct a lot of seed re-exporting before the seed reaches its final destination. Internationally recognized seed health tests do not exist for many pathogens in question, so many countries are using different test methods for the same pathogen, which often results in discrepancies. Impacts to the seed industry include huge costs for seed health testing and seed treatments, rejected shipments that are often not technically justified, and overall uncertainty, as most phy- tosanitary requirements still are not harmonized internationally. In 2017, the IPPC succeeded in adopting an international stand- ard for seed movement, which should go a long way to eventu- ally resolving some of these problems. SW: No. 1 priority for 2018? RD: ASTA has been in partnership with APHIS to develop a new approach for regulating seed movements internationally, which could provide a better option for NPPOs and the seed industry. This new approach will use a systems approach whereby seed companies will be able to become accredited based on the strength of their quality seed production and processing prac- tices in reducing or managing overall phytosanitary risk. Under this accreditation, companies will be able to move their seed internationally without obtaining individual phytosanitary certifi- cates for each shipment. This APHIS project is called ReFreSH, which stands for Regulatory Framework for Seed Health. APHIS has been working with several “like-minded” countries that are also interested in this idea. So my No. 1 priority is to work with APHIS to get a pilot project with several other trading partners up and running to test this concept. SW Ric Dunkle, ASTA senior director of seed health and trade, discusses life, career and the international movement of seed. From Regulatory to Service