Source: American Seed Trade Association

The first American Seed Research Summit brought together leaders in public and private sector seed research to outline a strategic plan to help address the various hurdles facing seed research - training and education, funding, research trend, prioritization and public-private partnerships. Finding solutions and providing resourceful partnerships is critical because seed innovation and technology plays a vital role in meeting the growing demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel.

The summit held on Sept. 25-26 in Chicago, brought together research leaders from industry academia and government to identify major seed research challenges and to develop a national strategy and action plan to solve those challenges. Over 40 representatives attended the two-day event sponsored by the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), the American Seed Research Foundation and the National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders (NCCPB).

ASRF President Rob Robinson remarked that the first American Seed Research Summit was a resounding success. "Some of the brightest research leaders in industry, government and academia participated in creating an action plan that promises to move American seed research forward dramatically in the years to come."

The summit resulted in an outline of five strategic goals to enhance seed research opportunities which focus on strengthening public-private partnerships, strong advocacy and stable funding, human technical capacity and interest in high quality plant research, regulatory systems that support innovation and efficiency of operation, and public awareness about the value of seed research. The participants defined key results and strategies to address each goal as well as near term actions to jump start the plan. In addition, specific gaps in seed research were reviewed and priorities were identified. "Positive progress was made in identifying gaps in seed research, and starting the process to address these needs unselfishly by industry, government and universities," said NCCPB Past President Fritz Behr.

A white paper will be prepared by the American Seed Research Summit Steering Committee. Once prepared, each sponsoring organization will endorse the paper which will then guide future activities among the groups as well as the other participants of the summit. Robinson concluded, "It was surprising to see such broad agreement among the group as to the issues American seed research faces and the priorities we must address in the near future to ensure our global leadership in seed and plant biotechnology research. Now it is essential that we focus all of the resources necessary to execute on this plan."

Founded in 1883, ASTA, located in Alexandria, Va., is one of the oldest trade organizations in the United States. Its membership consists of approximately 750 companies involved in seed production and distribution, plant breeding, and related industries in North America. As an authority on plant germplasm, ASTA advocates science and policy issues of industry importance. Its mission is to enhance the development and free movement of quality seed worldwide.

ASRF is an extension of the activities of the former ASTA Seed Laboratory Committee, which was active during the 1940s and 1950s. In 1959, the American Seed Trade Association established ASRF as a tax exempt, scientific, benevolent, and educational organization, to raise and distribute funds for seed research. The mission of ASRF is to encourage research in plant and seed biology and to facilitate the transfer of resulting technology to benefit the seed industry, farmers and consumers on a global basis.

The mission of the NCCPB is to promote, technically and ethically, the interests of professional U.S. plant breeders' worldwide. This includes fostering collaboration and cooperation among plant breeding and improvement organizations, encouraging public and private funding for plant breeding research and development, recognizing scientific achievement of plant breeders and supporting effective systems of intellectual property protection.