May 19, 2016 Seed E-News
In This Issue
At A Glance
Have you seen ASTA's new Website? 


BetterSeed.org is the new go-to source for all information related to the research, development and movement of quality seed to meet the world's demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel.

The website showcases ASTA's refreshed branding and supports the association's public-facing communications initiative to educate consumers about the connection between better seed and better life.  In addition to seed improvement messages, www.BetterSeed.org offers information for policymakers about the key legislative and regulatory issues impacting the seed industry; industry FAQs covering plant breeding, GMOs, organics, seed treatment, and other topics; publications and resources for the media ; information on upcoming industry meetings ; and much more.
ASTA Featured in Association News Magazine


The latest edition of Association News magazine features ASTA as an innovator in the association meeting space!  Check out the article to learn about creative ways that ASTA and other associations are adding a "wow factor" to their membership events!
Global Seed News

The latest edition of ASTA's quarterly Global Seed News hit inboxes last week. Were you on the list?  If not, email Kelly Crist , manager of international programs & policy, to stay up to date on the latest international issues impacting the seed industry!

Have you heard the news? ASTA's website has been updated! BetterSeed.org is your new go-to source for all information related to the research, development and movement of quality seed to meet the world's demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel. Check it out and let us know what you think!    


PS -- Do you know someone who would benefit from receiving Seed E-News? Have them Sign Up!
State
States Consider Neonicotinoid Legislation

As of Thursday, May 12, 19 states are in session . By the end of May, only 15 states will remain in session.  Budgets are still the primary concerns.  Many bills concerning neonicotinoid pesticides were introduced, but only two have passed thus far:

In Maryland, the Pollinator Protection Act of 2016 has passed the House and the Senate and is awaiting the Governor's signature.  The bill prohibits a person from selling, on or after January 1, 2018, a neonicotinoid pesticide unless the person also sells a restricted use pesticide; prohibits a person from using a neonicotinoid pesticide on or after January 1, 2018, unless the person is a certified applicator or a person working under the supervision of a certified applicator, a farmer or a person working under the supervision of a farmer who uses the product for a certain purpose, or a veterinarian.  It also requires the Department of Agriculture to incorporate pollinator habitat expansion and enhancement practices into the State's Managed Pollinator Protection Plan; and other various reporting responsibilities.

Washington State House Bill 2478, which takes effect on June 9, 2016, directs the state noxious weed control board to conduct a pilot project that evaluates the options, methods, and costs of purposefully replacing pollen-rich and nectar-rich noxious weeds, which are productive forage plants for honey bees, with either native or noninvasive, nonnative forage plants that can produce similar levels of pollen and nectar with a similar bloom succession to support populations of honey bees and other pollinators. The goal of the pilot project is to develop optional guidance and best practices for landowners and land managers faced with the removal of noxious weeds. The pilot project must be developed to maximize the dual public benefits of reducing noxious weeds in Washington and supporting agricultural production through the maintenance of access to seasonally balanced pollen-rich and nectar-rich plants for honey bees and other pollinators.

Federal


Senate to Hold Long-Awaited Hearing on Plant Genetic Resources Treaty


On Thursday, May 19, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will hold a hearing on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (the Treaty).  John Schoenecker, HM.Clause, will testify on behalf of ASTA. 
 
Ratification of the Treaty  is one of ASTA's top legislative priorities.  This technical, international agreement aims to enhance global food security through the access and exchange of materials used to improve seeds. Germplasm is the backbone of agricultural innovation. Under the Treaty, a Standard Material Transfer Agreement would ensure that the terms for access to germplasm are uniform and transparent for all contracting parties.

The U.S. was integrally involved in negotiating the finalized treaty and signed it in 2002 during the Bush administration. In December of 2010, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recommended ratification on a voice vote. However, the treaty is still pending, and the last committee hearing to consider it was in November, 2009.  

The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. EST.  A live webcast will be available on the Committee website.
ASTA and Allied Organizations Granted Right to Intervene in Neonic-Treated Seed Lawsuit 

A lawsuit challenging EPA's regulation of neonicotinoid-treated seeds will proceed following a federal judge's rejection of EPA's motion to dismiss the case.  The judge also granted motions to intervene on the side of EPA from ASTA, Agricultural Retailers Association, CropLife America, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cotton Council of America, and American Soybean Association.
  
Anderson v. EPA , case no. 4:16-cv-00068 (N.D. Cal. filed Jan. 6, 2016) was filed in January by a number of plaintiffs, including environmental activists.  The plaintiffs are requesting a court order requiring EPA to regulate seeds treated with neonicotinoids as pesticides under FIFRA. 
 
ASTA and the industry coalition are intervening in the lawsuit to ensure that the court and EPA understand the vital importance of treated seeds to American agriculture.  Regulating seed as a pesticide could put a tremendous burden on growers and seed companies, as each planting would be considered a pesticide application.  

The Administrative Record is due to be filed by June 30.  Motions for summary judgment are due by Aug. 11.  
Academies of Science Issues Report on Genetically Engineered Crops


On May 17,the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a report  finding that genetically engineered crops are safe.  Work on the extensive study began two years ago and was conducted by a committee of more than 50 scientists, researchers and agricultural and industry experts.

ASTA President & CEO Andy LaVigne made the following statement in response to the report:  

"We're pleased the NAS has taken the time to perform a thorough, scientific review of genetically engineered (GE) crops.  Their findings reinforce what we've known all along: GE crops are safe. 

"ASTA is thoroughly reviewing the study.  However, we are concerned that the committee did not sufficiently recognize the role that plant breeding's long history of safety has played in bringing new and improved seed varieties to the marketplace.  The evolution of plant breeding is the foundation of America's safe, nutritious and diverse food supply.  New plant breeding methods build upon our strong history of innovation, and will help meet the challenges faced by agriculture in an efficient and sustainable manner. 

"It is imperative that both public and private plant breeders and seed companies of all sizes have the opportunity to employ new and evolving breeding methods in the future, without being hindered by overly-burdensome regulations.  Continued innovation and the improvement of breeding methods are paramount to the future of agriculture and our quality of life."
International 
Tim Johnson Honored by ISF 

 

During the World Seed Congress this week in Uruguay, ASTA Executive Committee Member Tim Johnson of Indiana was named an honorary life member of the International Seed Federation (ISF).  Congratulations to Tim on this well-deserved recognition at the International level!  

Johnson is president of Illinois Foundation Seeds, Inc., Field Crops Division In addition to ASTA, Johnson currently serves in leadership positions with ISF, CropLife International and Floragenex.  

"I encourage all of you to think of someone in your company that should participate at the World Seed Congress," said Johnson.  "What a great opportunity for them to learn and experience the industry. It is truly my honor to be a member of the International Seed Federation."


May is International Month at ASTA!
  


In celebration of the ISF World Seed Congress  this week in Uruguay, ASTA has been featuring international seed issues on social media throughout the month of May.  If you're not already, be sure to follow @Better_Seed for facts and figures about seed trade, and help us spread the word! Join in the conversation by using #ASTAGlobal. 
Infographics for International May 


Want to know the best ways to get started in exporting?  The International team:Michelle Klieger, Ric Dunkle, and Kelly Crist wanted to deliver a takeaway for those interested in moving seed abroad.  The infographic on Exporting 101 is great bird's eye view of how to get you  started  in that process.  


Meetings & Education
Don't Miss the ASTA-OSA Annual Convention, June 18-22 in Portland! 


The early registration deadline is fast approaching for the ASTA-OSA joint Annual Convention , June 18-22 in Portland, Oregon.  Register  and book your hotel room by Thursday, May 26 to take advantage of special rates!   


This is an historic opportunity to come together with the members of the Oregon Seed Association to discuss issues and develop policy initiatives for the entire industry. The convention schedule includes a variety of plenary and breakout sessions that will be held jointly with the committees of OSA, on topics including phytosanitary issues, communications, legislative concerns, cover crops and more.  Participants will learn about the latest issues impacting the seed industry while experiencing Oregon's crop diversity and culture first-hand through a variety of tours.  

For more information on the week's events, see the registration brochure.  
ASRF Announces 2016 Operation Student Connection Selections


The  American Seed Research Foundation (ASRF) has announced its selections for the 2016 Operation Student Connection program.  The program is a unique opportunity for graduate students in seed related disciplines to attend and participate in the ASTA Annual Convention where they'll gain first-hand insight into the industry and establish valuable professional contacts.  Congratulations to the following students: 

Matthew Rhine, Texas A&M University
Degree Sought: Ph.D. Plant Breeding, graduating December 2016
Title of Study:  Improving soybean for increased productivity on specific soil types

Matthew Mattia, University of Florida
Degree Sought: Ph.D., graduating December 2017
Title of Study: Association mapping of beneficial phytochemicals in mandarin germplasm and estimating consumer acceptance of nutritionally improved cultivars.

Lillian Brzostowski, University of Illinois
Degree Sought: Ph.D., graduating August 2016
Title of Study:  Breeding for increased protein concentration, sudden death syndrome resistance, and soybean cyst nematode resistance in soybean.

Emmanuel Santa-Martinez, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Degree Sought: Ph.D., graduating December 2017
Title of Study: Movement of pollinators and their impact on selfing and gene flow in alfalfa.

Amanda Easterly, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Degree Sought: Ph.D., graduating May 2017
Title of Study:  Breeding for hybrid wheat: Addressing heterosis, hybridization, commercial production practices, and potential for heterotic pool development.

Ryan Huffman, Iowa State University
Degree Sought: Ph.D., graduating Spring/Summer 2017
Title of Study:  Gametophytic cross incompatibility: A genetic mechanism to maintain market class purity in maize.

Please take some time to meet and congratulate the students in person at the ASTA-OSA Annual Convention in June! 
Seeding Success
 
It's your membership and financial support that allows ASTA to do this work and get you the information you need. Please encourage other seed industry colleagues to join ASTA and contribute to the success of the industry.


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