The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a long-awaited hearing on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (the Treaty) on Thursday.

John Schoenecker, American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) executive committee member testified on behalf of the seed industry.

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. 

“No country, including the U.S., is self-sufficient when it comes to seed,” said ASTA president and CEO Andrew LaVigne. “Without ratification of the Treaty, U.S. agriculture could be at a huge disadvantage. As all types of agriculture are asked to do more, it’s critical that our researchers have the ability to access the most basic genetic material needed to improve seeds and food for the future.”

The Treaty has been ratified by more than 139 countries, many of which are both competitors of the U.S. as well as important sources of seed exchange for public and private breeders here at home. Ratification of the bipartisan Treaty would require no changes in existing U.S. laws and no additional appropriations.

“Crop diversity is equally important to all sectors of agriculture, including organic, conventional, public and private,” said Schoenecker.  “Secure access to global plant materials will enable American Seed Trade Association members and the broader industry to supply the best seeds to our customers, so they can grow more of the best food tomorrow and into the future.”

For more information on the Treaty, see ASTA’s briefing paper. Schoenecker’s full testimony is available on ASTA’s website.