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Agrimarketing : American Seed Trade Association
SEEDS PLANTED 125 YEARS AGO/continued frompage 5 Plant breeders’ rightswere further strengthened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision inDiamond v.Chakrabarty, a case that extended patent rights for genetically engineered microorganisms. This decision laid the foundationfor the use of biotechnology to geneticallymodifyseeds. ASTAwas also instrumental in passing an amendment to the PVPAwhich clarified farm-saved seed provisions and strengthened rights associatedwith intellectual prop- erty and plant breeders. Passed in 1994, the amendment gave seed developers the exclusive right tomarket their protected varieties for a period of time and prohibited the sale of the patented seed by anyone elsewithout the origi- nal owner’s permission. Providing further support for the lawwas the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Asgrow v. Winterboerwhich stated that the intent of the 1970 PVPA was for a farmer to save only the amount of a protected variety necessary to replant their own holdings. ADVANCING SCIENCE In 1985,ASTAappointed a special Biotechnology Com- mittee to helpmember companies understand this new budding scientific field. It held educational programs to discuss biotechnology processes, applications, regulatory issues and challenges to itswidespread acceptance. The association also representedmember companies’ varied interests in the development of policies and standards for the newtechnology. ASTAalso participated in negotiations for two inter- national treaties in 1997: the Convention of Biological Diversity,which governs conservation of biological diversity and benefits derived fromgenetic resources, and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety,created to pro- tect biological diversity frompotential risks posed by liv- ing products ofmodern biotechnology. Ayear later,ASTAaddressed the concept of adventi- tious presence in seed, a termreferring to the presence of an unintended variety in seed stock.Adventitious pres- ence has relevance to various aspects of agricultural pro- duction, handling and processing and has become increas- ingly used in the discussion of genetically engineered (GE) seed or grain in relation to regulatory ormarketing guidelines. Some internationalmarkets,most notably the European Union, refused to accept GE seed or the prod- ucts producedwith that seed,making it imperative to address the purity of seed exported to thesemarkets. As the 21st century dawned,ASTAcontinued its efforts to harmonize international regulations and laws governing the trade of GE seed. In the U.S., the associa- tionworked to defeat legislation thatwould harmthe marketing potential of GE seed. LOOKING AHEAD The U.S. is nowone of theworld’s largest andmost diversified seedmarkets, producing andmarketing approximately 60,000 varieties of seed. Today,ASTAstill represents itsmembers in the areas of concerns that its initial 1883membership outlined. However, theworld has changed andASTAhas adopted and expanded its endeavors. The dreams of its founders have not only been realized, but exceeded. Formore information onASTAcurrent initiatives and activities, see page 10. AM 8 AgriMarketing s American Seed Trade Association Supplement (Timeline continued frompage 6) 1972: TheNational Seed Testing Standardization Laboratory is established. 1975: Illinois’HermanWarsawcracks the 300- bushel corn yield barrier. 1978: Ethanol tax credit for blenders is passed. 1980: U.S. Supreme Court extends plant patent rights for genetically engineeredmicroorgan- isms in Diamond v.Chakabarty, laying the foun- dation for the use of biotechnology for geneti- callymodified seeds. 1983: ASTAcelebrates its 100th anniversarywith 1,100 people attending its annual convention in San Francisco.U.N. passes resolution assuring free access to geneticmaterial,whether they exist in the public domain or developed commercially. Because of oversupply of grain stocks,USDA announces Payment InKind program(PIK) which idles 40%of theU.S. cropland. 1985: ASTAcreates Biotechnology Committee to address its resulting products, legislation and regulation. Farmeconomy bottoms out. Land prices have dropped by two-thirds. 1986: First computer systeminstalled atASTA offices. 1990: ASTA’s www.amseed.orgWebsite is launched. 1993: World’s first herbicide-tolerant soybean vari- ety is released. 1994: Amendments to PVPAare enactedwhich clar- ify farm-saved seed provisions and strength- ened the rights associatedwith intellectual property and plant breeders. 1995: U.S. Supreme Court rules in Asgrow v. Winterboer case that farmersmay only save the amount of a protected variety that is nec- essary to plant their own holdings and that seedmay not be re-sold. 1996: World’s first Bt-insect resistant corn hybrids and herbicide resistant soybean varities are released. 2001: U.N. approves the resolution “International Treaty on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture”which nowincludesASTA- backed rights for plant breeders. 2002: ASTArelocates its headquarters to its present location inAlexandria, VA. 2007: ASTAcreates the “Beyond the Seed” program, aimed to educate seed consumers about the importance of intellectual property rights. 2008: ASTAcelebrates its 125th anniversary of ser- vice to the seed industry.Has 14 full-time staff members. Launches the “First the Seed” Foundation to promote education about the wholesomeness and safety of crops produced fromseeds. AM
November December 2008