b'THE SEED SECTORS BATTLE AGAINST MICROPLASTICSISF and seed leaders weigh in on thehot-button topic.Aimee Nielson and Marcel BruinsIN AN ERA WHEREenvironmental consciousness rules,The most prominent function of polymers in seed treatments the seed sector is at a crucial juncture, grappling with theis to ensure proper adherence of STPs to the seed surface, pervasive issue of microplastics in seed treatments. A recentexplains Robert Gaffney, BASF director for Global Marketing and statement by the International Seed Federation (ISF) on MarchSeed TreatmentsGlobal Key Accounts. 15, 2024, reignited discussions on the topic. These polymers help reduce the risk of dust and STPs reach-Incotecs global marketing manager and global regulatorying non-target organisms, increasing safety for both factory manager Rob Pronk, sheds light on the significance of seedworkers and farmers.treatments. To grow crops sustainably and safely, the use of seed treat- Legislation and Transitionments is beneficial in many ways, Pronk says.Europe introduced legislation in October 2023, that restricts the The goal of seed treatment products (STPs) is to protectuse of intentionally added microplastics in seed treatments, with seeds against pests and diseases present on the seeds and ina transition period ranging from five to eight years depending the environment during sowing or to enable the seeds to expresson the regulatory state of the applied product. Other regions their genetic potential across various agronomical conditionsare contemplating similar measures. Bert Compaan, Research when sowing. STPs can be a chemical, biological, biostimulat- Manager Seed Pathology at Bejo Zaden, emphasizes the need ing, phytosanitary or fertilizing product that has a positive effectfor a transition period. when the seed is sown in the natural environment. This time allows the industry to develop and validate alterna-Pronk highlights the precision of seed treatments whichtive seed treatments and associated equipment, he states.ensures accurate planting and protects the intrinsic value of the seed itself. These methods not only minimize exposure to STPsSeed Community Support for Sustainable Alternativesfor workers and the environment but also drastically reduce theISF phytosanitary affairs manager Rose Souza Richards articu-need for active ingredients.lates the industry\'s commitment. All these benefits contribute to important UN SustainableThere is broad support from the international seed commu-Development Goals (SDG), he adds. nity to offer microplastic-free products where feasible, she says. Several UN SDG goals are positively impacted through seedAlready, seed-applied polymers free of microplastics are treatment. In the context of this document, the most prominentbecoming more available as companies transition their portfo-is UN SDG 12Responsible Consumption and Production. lios. The challenge remains more complex for STPs, requiring extensive reformulation and regulatory approvals.Microplastics in Seed Treatment The advantages of seed treatment are clear in promoting Beneath the surface of these advancements lies a challenge sustainable and safe crop growth, Souza Richards says. While microplastics. Microplastics are small plastic fragments less thanacknowledging the concerns surrounding microplastics, the 5 mm in diameter. Once released into the environment, they areindustry is actively addressing these issues through ongoing notoriously slow to degrade, posing significant environmentalresearch for innovative, environmentally friendly alternatives. The and health risks. While the primary contributors to environmen- commitment from the international seed community to provide tal microplastics include road tire wear and washing of syntheticmicroplastic-free products reflects our collective dedication to clothes, agriculture also plays a role through the microplastics inresponsible practices. As we navigate this transition, it is crucial polymers used for seed treatments. for all stakeholders to collaborate, ensuring the availability of Though currently estimated at only 1% of the total micro- sustainable alternatives for growers. Together, we can uphold our plastics released, the seed sector is ambitiously aiming for zerocommitment to environmental sustainability and reinforce our contributions.role as conscientious leaders in the agricultural industry."SW10/ SEEDWORLD.COMINTERNATIONAL EDITION 2024'