Seed World

Advocate for Seed Innovation with Government Officials

The most exciting opportunities for the seed industry might also present the biggest challenges. As seed companies continue to innovate and move the needle on what crops can do, regulatory agencies haven’t always kept pace.

“Whenever you’re dealing with government and you’re working in an industry that is rapidly changing and discovery is happening on a monumental scale, it’s hard for government to keep up,” says Andy LaVigne, CEO of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA). “Their natural reaction is to try to put the brakes on things in some form of policy or regulation and that’s what we fear most [in the seed industry].”

Scientists are making rapid improvements to the way farmers grow crops, so fast, in fact, regulatory bodies can’t keep up. From defining what new technologies are, such as CRISPR and other gene-editing techniques, to understanding what testing is required, the knowledge gap is only growing.

“Our challenge as an industry and as an association is, how do we communicate those changes while there’s not [yet] a reason to be concerned?” LaVigne says. “And how do we help people see this is a benefit?”

It’s showcasing not only the benefits to farmers, but to the consumer and the environment as well. LaVigne says ASTA works closely with members of the government to explain what’s going on in the seed sector to help pave the path for innovation.

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