USDA Amends Federal Seed Act
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service has amended the Federal Seed Act regulations. Amendments to the FSA regulations include: an update to the nomenclature of some agricultural and vegetable seeds listed, as per current usages on the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature; amendments to the list of prohibited noxious weed seeds; updates to seed testing regulations to reflect improvements in seed testing technology and methods; updates to noxious weed seed tolerances; updates to seed certification regulations; and clarifications of the labeling requirements for seed treated with the most toxic class of chemical compounds. These updates are periodically needed in order to maintain consistency with other federal and state agencies, as well as to reflect changes in industry practice. “Ultimately, the harmonizing of state and federal testing procedures reduces the burden on small entities shipping seed in interstate commerce, by allowing the same test to meet regulatory requirements for inter- and intra-state shipments,” says Richard Payne, AMS Seed regulatory and testing branch chief.

Refuge Products Approved for Crop Insurance Discount
Dow AgroSciences Refuge Advanced, powered by SmartStax, and Monsanto Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete are the newest corn products to be approved for crop insurance premium reductions under the Pilot Biotechnology Endorsement program offered by the United States Department of Agriculture. The program lowers crop insurance premiums in 2011 for farmers in 12 states growing irrigated and non-irrigated corn who meet the program’s requirements and plant qualifying hybrids. Farmers in the U.S. Corn Belt planting the single-bag refuge solution for corn may be eligible to reduce their crop insurance premiums as part of the Pilot BE program. In April, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered the products, which are available in limited quantities this growing season.

Expiration of Biotech Crop Patents Report
A report issued by Iowa State University’s Centre for Agricultural Law and Taxation examines how growers could be affected by the expiration of biotech crop patents. In the near future, the last of the Roundup Ready soybean patents will expire. That expiration will be followed by the expiration of other patents on biotech crops and expiring approvals in overseas markets like the European Union and China. Those expirations could lead to the planting of so-called “generic” versions of RR seeds that lack approval in overseas markets, complicating the export process and potentially disrupting billions in trade. As patents expire and regulatory approvals for overseas markets become uncertain, a significant question arises as to whether farmers will continue to have access to these markets. As patents begin to expire on various biotech crops, those crops will remain in the commercial grain supply chain for a period of time. That means steps will likely be necessary to ensure the crops will still meet requirements imposed by certain buyers such as the EU and China. Without those steps, U.S. farmers could face problems in maintaining access to those markets.

DAS Accredited by USDA Seed Conditioning Program
Dow AgroSciences is the first United States seed company to be certified under the United States Department of Agriculture’s Accredited Seed Conditioning Program. This certification applies to the newly introduced DAS Refuge Advanced powered by SmartStax, the industry’s first single-bag refuge solution for corn. “Earning this USDA certification provides our customers with a high level of confidence that DAS products meet or exceed regulatory and seed industry standards,” says Michael Joseph, lead quality manager for Seed Production at DAS. To qualify for this program, DAS complied with stringent USDA criteria for Refuge Advanced seed blending, and met the USDA’s Process Verified Program standards. Requirements include conducting trait purity checks on component seed lots, as well as maintaining standard operating procedures for the seed-blending process, including traceability, conditioning flow and product carryover procedures.


Mexico Streamlines Rules for GMOS
Mexican environmental and agricultural officials have reduced the number of procedures that academics, public companies and private corporations must follow to get permission for limited use of GMOs from 12 to two. The two main food regulators in Mexico signed an agreement that allows researchers and companies to make just one filing per agency, according to the Agriculture, Ranching, Rural Development, Fishing and Food Secretariat and the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat. The agreement will “facilitate and simplify the system by which parties, mainly research centers and universities, as well as public and private companies” notify the secretariats about such activities, the statement said. The agreement between the secretariats “should ensure the safe use of GMOs obtained via modern biotechnology tools with the goal of preventing or reducing potential risks to the environment, biological diversity, and animal, vegetable and aquaculture health, which the limited use of them could lead to.”

EFSA Updates Risk Assessment for GM Plants
The European Food Safety Authority has published updated guidance for the risk assessment of food and feed derived from genetically modified plants. The document expands on previous EFSA guidance and reflects the latest scientific developments in areas such as assessment of allergenicity and selection of the comparator plant against which the GM plant is compared. It also establishes a new statistical methodology to further strengthen the risk assessment of GM plants. The guidance will also support the European Commission in preparing a legal framework for the risk assessment of GM food and feed. “This important document is the result of several years work by the EFSA GMO Panel. It will ensure continued rigor in the application process, strengthen and promote consistency in data provided by applicants and, ultimately, contribute to an even higher level of consumer protection from potential risks associated with the use of GM food and feed,” says Riitta Maijala, EFSA’s director of scientific evaluation of regulated products.

Ukraine to Strengthen Responsibility for GMOs
The Ukrainian government has approved a draft law amending the State Biosafety System for the creation, testing, transportation and use of genetically modified organisms. The draft law was developed by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine and approved on May 11, 2011. The amendment introduces a mechanism of traceability for products containing GMOs or which are derived from their use, and empower the cabinet of ministers to determine the scientific institution to perform functions of the scientific and methodological centre for GMO testing. This amendment will allow entities to save money on product research for GMO content, and simultaneously enhance their responsibility for the circulation of these products.

Viptera Receives Approval in Argentina
Syngenta has received cultivation approval for its MIR162 trait, branded Agrisure Viptera, from the Ministry of Agriculture in Argentina. MIR162 offers excellent control of key insects such as fall armyworm, sugarcane borer and corn earworm as well as other damaging lepidopteran pests. “Following the successful launches in the U.S. and Brazil, this approval is evidence of our ability to leverage technology across regions,” says John Atkin, Syngenta chief operating officer. The trait will be available to Argentine growers for the 2011-12 season. MIR1
62 has already been approved for cultivation in the U.S., Canada and Brazil.

Regulatory RoundUp keeps you informed of issues at the international, national and state levels that affect your business—from recent regulatory changes to new issues that are at the forefront of the seed industry.