Leaders from the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and the China National Seed Association (CNSA) signed a Memo of Understanding this week to promote cooperation relating to innovation in the seed industry, announced ASTA President Andrew LaVigne.

“This agreement achieves two extremely important goals,” said LaVigne.  “First, it is an important first step in providing new business opportunities for the world’s two largest seed industries; and second, it will ultimately work toward increased farmer productivity.”

The MOU, which was signed at the annual Corn & Sorghum Seed Research (CSS) conference, reflects both parties’ desire to promote mutual interests through cooperation, information exchange and training in the areas of intellectual property rights, quality seed, science-based phytosanitary measures, seed movement and innovation in the seed industry on the basis of equality and mutual benefits.

Some of the cooperative efforts expected to result from the agreement include: visits and exchanges of scientists; participation in conferences, workshops and exhibitions; exchange of technical data; and joint training and education programs. Funding and staffing for these activities will be determined on individual bases. The agreement also prohibited the use of information derived from the cooperative activities for commercial usage without pre-authorization. The creation or exchange of intellectual property is not anticipated under the MOU.

“This provides Chinese companies the opportunity both to better understand how the seed industry has developed in the U.S. and to explore the potential for future partnerships,” said Jun Yang, the vice president of CNSA. “It also enables both countries to learn more about how each other’s seed industries operate.”

The signing of the MOU came near the conclusion of a tour by the 52-member Chinese delegation of some ASTA members companies’ facilities, including Monsanto, Stine Seed, DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, Inc. and IFSI.  The delegation also toured Iowa State University’s Seed Science Center and was scheduled to meet with other U.S. seed industry representatives at the Exhibitor Marketplace at ASTA’s “Seed Expo” at the Hyatt Chicago this week.