Seed World

Jodi Souter is on a Mission to Enable Pioneers in Private Plant Breeding

There’s a generational shift happening. In less than eight years, a new generation will step up to replace the seven million people over 65 in Canada. Investing in young leaders is needed now more than ever.

Fortunately for the seed industry, the future’s in good hands.

Germination asked for nominations for 10 leaders in the industry who showcase a drive for bettering the global seed industry. These leaders come from a range of businesses — from multinationals to associations to independent companies. They all have one goal in common: leading the seed sector into the future.

These 10 Next-Gen Leaders were nominated by their managers, their peers, and different seed associations who saw their potential as up-and-coming leaders. Here’s the first.

Jodi Souter is known as a pioneer in private plant breeding. As co-owner of J4 Agri-Science, the Nuffield Scholar has extensively studied private plant breeding in Canada and the obstacles and opportunities surrounding it.

As part of her Nuffield work, she examined regulations surrounding intellectual property, biotechnology, and the perception of private plant breeding in Canada, as well as regulatory barriers in registering varieties.

Addressing these obstacles could help develop an additional lane for private plant breeding in Canada, but to do that, we need more people like her, she notes.

“There aren’t a ton of people in this line of work below the age of 50. A lack of young leaders in the plant breeding industry is something that needs to be addressed,” she says.

Part of the issue, she says, is that old habits die hard. The Seed Regulatory Modernization (SRM) process is an example of how the seed industry may have had certain practices or policies in place, such as variety registration, for a long time simply because that’s the way things have always been done, she adds.

“It’s important to recognize that there is no perfect system and that the industry should always be striving to improve and adapt to new circumstances. This may involve updating policies or removing barriers that prevent new players from entering the industry, such as small startup companies. Ultimately, the goal should be to create a more welcoming and dynamic industry that can continue to evolve and meet the needs of a changing world.”