ASTA calls for global standards of tolerance for adventitious presence biotech material in traditional seed

WASHINGTON, DC-Global standards of tolerance for the adventitious (unintentional) presence of biotech material in traditional seed are needed to prevent potential disruptions in domestic and international seed distribution, said the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) to the U.S. Department of Agricultures Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology yesterday.

"Since seed is produced in and subject to open environments, no commercial seed is 100 percent genetically pure, whether traditional or biotech seed," said Mark Condon, ASTA vice president of international marketing. "With the existence of genetically enhanced crops, it is currently impossible to guarantee that traditional seed will not contain a minute level of adventitious biotech material.

"Moreover, seed is destroyed in the testing process for genetic purity, therefore, only a small percentage of a seed lot can be tested. Hence, zero tolerance of adventitious biotech material, which may only be verified by testing 100 percent of a seed lot, is not possible."

As a result, ASTA and the International Seed Trade Federation (FIS) designed the International Seed Network Initiative in June 1999 to prevent potential disruptions in international seed trade. The initiative seeks to establish a globally accepted tolerance level for the adventitious presence of biotech material in traditional seed, standardized biotech testing protocols, and an enhanced quality assurance system in seed production to minimize adventitious presence. Proposed quality assurance procedures provide for positive identification, traceability, and control of seed through each step of the production process.

"Adventitious biotech presence can only be minimized by enhanced quality assurance procedures, not post-production testing," Condon noted.

The OECD Seed Schemes, Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies, Association of Official Seed Analysts and International Seed Testing Association have agreed

Contact: Angela Dansby
202-638-3128 X31
American Seed Trade Association

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