June 21, 2016 Seed E-News
In This Issue
At A Glance
Tomatosphere Seeds Launch into Space 
More than one million tomato seeds arrived at the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship launched Monday from Cape Canaveral.  The seeds mark a significant next step for the education program
Tomatosphere which will significantly expand its reach to classrooms across the United States, with support from the First the Seed Foundation (FTSF) and Center for the Advancement of Science In Space (CASIS). 

Learn more about the mission here, and if you would like to see the launch webcast of the CRS-9 Dragon Mission visit here

USDA ARC/PLC Enrollment Deadline is Aug.1 
August 1 is the deadline to enroll in USDA's Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and/or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2016 crop year.
While producers have already elected ARC or PLC, they must enroll for the 2016 crop year by signing a contract before the Aug. 1 deadline to receive program benefits.  For more program information, contact your local FSA office or visit  www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc. 

Congress passes a long-awaited GMO-labeling bill, and tomato seeds launch into space! We cover these stories, and much more, in the latest edition of Seed eNews! Enjoy!   

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American Seed Control Officials Adopt Amendments to RUSSL

The Association of American Seed Control Officials (AASCO) wrapped up its annual convention on July 14.  Along with its regular programming and discussions, the group considered two amendments to the Recommended Uniform State Seed Law (RUSSL).  The association maintains the suggested language as a reference for state seed laws.  It's important to note that these amendments will not change any state laws, but simply serve as guidance for consideration.
The first amendment, submitted by ASTA, changes the arbitration section.  The proposal would limit the filing of a lawsuit until the arbitration concludes, if arbitration is used in a seed dispute.
The second amendment is the result of a working group-including AASCO members, ASTA members and staff and seed librarians-created last year to address authorization of non-commercial seed sharing.  The amendment would eliminate the gray area of the law as it applies to seed libraries, seed swaps and public exchanges; non-commercial seed-sharing is defined to mean that no monetary consideration or compensation may be transferred in return for receiving seeds.  The rule addresses labeling, handling of treated seed, invasive species, purity, intellectual property, and enforcement.
Both amendments were adopted by the organization and will be added to RUSSL.
House Passes GMO Labeling Bill
On July 14, the House of Representatives passed the Senate version of GMO labeling legislation (S.764) by a vote of 306-117.  The bill, which earlier passed the Senate by a 63-30 vote, is expected to be signed into law by the President.  The common sense legislation will provide a transparent, uniform national food disclosure standard while protecting consumers, farmers and small businesses from the harmful consequences of a confusing and costly patchwork of state labeling mandates. 

"We applaud Chairman Conaway and Roberts, Ranking Members Peterson and Stabenow, Congressmen Pompeo and Butterfield, and all the Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate who put politics aside and came together to do what's right for American families and farmers," said ASTA President & CEO Andrew LaVigne.  "Failure to do so would have had long-term, irreversible consequences on our nation's food supply chain.  Genetic engineering is one of a wide array of safe and important tools plant breeders use to address global challenges.  Thanks to this bill, products produced through this method will not be unfairly stigmatized with mandatory on-pack labels."
Ag Groups Express Concerns about Pending EU Legislation Affecting Ag Exports
On July 12, ASTA, along with nearly 50 agricultural organizations and associations, sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman expressing concerns about pending European Union (EU) legislation affecting agricultural exports.
The groups are concerned that the legislation, which governs crop protection products, could be implemented in a way that is scientifically questionable, unduly trade-restrictive and inconsistent with the EU's commitments in the World Trade Organization (WTO).   The letter asks Ambassador Froman "to reiterate [his] concerns in the coming weeks, and to put Commissioners on notice that [the U.S.] will hold them to their WTO obligations."
The regulation which governs the registration of pesticides in the EU, establishes several hazard-based "cut-off" criteria that essentially exclude certain categories of products from consideration for normal authorization. For such products, the EU would not perform a risk assessment. Rather, it would declare them to be ineligible for authorization, or reauthorization, based on their intrinsic properties, without taking into account important risk factors such as level of exposure.
"WTO rules governing such regulatory decisions are clear," the letter states. "The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) requires that SPS measures that affect trade be based on a risk assessment."

TPP Supports Critical U.S. Seed-Trade Markets

Currently, both political parties are using a lot of rhetoric against free trade agreements-putting the 12-nation, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in serious trouble.
ASTA has and continues to support this critical agreement for a number of reasons.  TPP includes the U.S. and several of its seed industry's biggest trading partners, like Australia, Canada, Mexico, Chile, and Vietnam. Like all free trade agreements to which the U.S. is party, this agreement requires all 12 nations to ascend to UPOV 1991, which offers the highest level of intellectual property protection available internationally.  The agreement also requires science-based phytosanitary measures, which is critical to facilitating the movement of seed globally.  The U.S. already meets these two requirements. Therefore, TPP would not require major changes in the U.S., and would level the playing field for our trading partners.
ASTA members have identified intellectual property and phytosanitary regulations as two of the most important factors impacting the success of their businesses globally.  As such, these two topics account for the majority of ASTA's international efforts. TPP is well-aligned with ASTA's goals in these areas, which is why the association continues to support the agreement and push for its approval by Congress.
Meetings & Education
Share Your Feedback on ASTA's 133rd Annual Convention!

If you attended ASTA's recent Annual Convention in Portland, Oregon, please share your experiences with us by completing our convention survey.  Respondents will be entered for a chance to win one of three Amazon gift cards!
Recordings of our conference sessions, including the General Session with Former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Krysta Harden are now available . Check out additional annual convention coverage including interviews with leadership and convention speakers at AgWired.  Conference photos can be found  here .
PS -- Mark your calendars for next year's 134th Annual Convention, June 21-24 in Minneapolis, Minnesota! 

Seeding Success
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