The California Seed Association is a nonprofit agricultural trade association which has served the seed industry since 1940.
Our membership consists of those firms which believe that the best way to achieve common goals and respond to the problems that affect the seed industry is through cooperative effort and group action.
We initiate action for the betterment of the California seed industry.
Those in the industry have many common interests and goals, making close communications within the industry increasingly more vital.
CSA brings all segments of the seed industry together as a strong, united voice.
President: Nicole Hostert, California Crop Improvement Association
Vice President: Leonard Jones, HM Clause
Secretary/Treasurer: Grant Baglietto, Baglietto Seeds
Executive Vice President: Chris Zanobini, CSA
Past President: Matt DiCori, Keithly-Williams Seeds
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Greg Cassel, AgSeeds Unlimited
John Ellis, J.G. Boswell Co.
Eric Christianson, Rijk Zwaan USA Inc.
Andy Reysack, Corteva Agriscience
Robert Mirkin, Wilke, Fleury, LLP
William B. Early - 1940-42
Cyrus F. Voorhees - 1943
Charles P. Morse - 1944
Ralph A. Kelly - 1945
Eugene D. Martin - 1946-47
Herbert W. Walcott - 1948
Earle E. Humphries - 1949
Harry A. Marks - 1950
J. Vard Loomis - 1951
James D. McDonald - 1952
William H. Ramsey - 1953
Walter S. Wilkinson -1954
Ken Christensen - 1955
Richard Lyng - 1956
W. Atlee Burpee III - 1957
Larry Robinson, Jr. - 1958
J.L. Peck - 1959
Earle E. Campbell - 1960
Wilbur O. White - 1961
Lloyd E. Arnold - 1962
John F. Kluber - 1963
Roger A. Pirie - 1964
Richard W. McKenna - 1965
Richard A. Strehike - 1966
Harry D. Kinder - 1967
Gerald F. Burke - 1968
Gerald H. Kamprath - 1969
Robert B. Hammond - 1970
Larry B. Arnese - 1971
E.D. Weimortz - 1972
Deane E. Schneider - 1973
Richard H. Gomer - 1974
Gordon L. Taylor - 1975
William B. Warren - 1976
Paul T. Orsetti - 1977
David L. Knutson - 1978
Thomas Castle - 1979
Robert J. Silva - 1980
Ian Lockhart - 1981
Harry Neuman - 1982
Lou Flanagan - 1983
Gabe Patin - 1984
Jim Loe - 1985
Shirley Brinker - 1986
Joe Burnside - 1987
Robert Garner - 1988
Melvin Aoki - 1989
Nate Johnson - 1990
Larry Hirahara - 1991
Dean Urmston - 1992
Phil Maxey - 1993
Chuck Lohse - 1994
Curtis Vaughan - 1995
Paul Baumer - 1996
Kelly Keithly - 1997
Doug Elkins - 1998
Phil Ashcraft - 1999
Harry “Corky” Hansen - 2000
George Hansen - 2001
Bob Munger - 2002
John McShane - 2003
Marc Meyer - 2004
Bill Van Skike - 2005
Rick Falconer - 2006
Jim Wadsworth - 2007
Jeff Plourd - 2008
Bill White - 2009
John Palmer - 2010
Todd Rehrman - 2011
Ken Scarlett - 2012
Mark Fowler - 2013
Tom Hearne - 2014
Kraig Kuykendall - 2015
Paul Scaroni - 2016
George Gough - 2017
Manny Silva III - 2018
Scott Emanuelli - 2019
Matt DiCori - 2020
Consumers who buy seed for planting in the marketplace today are not simply buying a product. They are paying for two things: first, there is the cost of the investment which includes people and capital resources; second, there is the cost of research and development. These activities are necessary to bring any product to market. Without either of these there would be no advancement of society. A firm invests money in the hope of realizing a profit so it can survive and continue to service its customers. Without the incentive to realize a return on investment, firms will not conduct research and new products will not be developed.
Seed companies with breeding programs need incentives to conduct research and invest human and financial resources in the development of new, improved seed varieties. The future success of California agriculture is dependent upon this process. The California Seed Association (CSA) supports the rights of owners of protected varieties of seed to realize a profit from their investments in research and development and urges growers and those in the seed industry to respect those rights. CSA also believes it is in the best interest of agriculture as a whole to abide by the spirit and the letter of the U.S. Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) and other laws protecting intellectual property rights.
CSA prides itself on promoting high standards of integrity and ethics within the association membership specifically and within the seed industry in general. CSA also urges the grower community and the public to adhere to the same high standards. This means that CSA members and others should compete on an ethical and moral basis in the marketplace. They should not look for or employ ways to evade state and federal seed laws, or the ownership protections provided by PVPA or the Patent and Trademark Laws, the California Trademark, Trade Secret, unfair competition statutes or copyright laws to gain an unethical competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Specifically, CSA does not condone and is strongly opposed to the practice of selling seed varieties without the permission of the owner.
In addition, CSA does not condone and is strongly opposed to the practice of using partnerships or joint ventures in an attempt to circumvent the “saved seed” provisions of the PVPA. The law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States and, more recently by the U.S. Congress, permits a farmer or producer of a crop to save seed of a protected variety to plant his/her own holdings. This ruling does not authorize the use of a protected variety to produce a seed copy for propagating purposes separate from the production of that farmer’s crop itself.
Agriculturalbiotechnology is impacting agriculture and the general public in positive ways. Through the use of biotechnology farmers are producing healthier foods using fewer pesticides on less land. Environmental benefits emanating from agricultural biotechnology include soil conservation, water conservation, and protection of wild plants and animals. Many of the benefits of biotechnology are just beginning to come to fruition. However, the technology promises to provide many nutritional, medical and environmental benefits in the future.Biotechnology will clearly play a role in reducing world hunger and improving the health of an ever growing population.Biotechnology also allows California agriculture to continue to be a leader in agricultural production at a time when there is intense competition for water supplies and when available agricultural land is declining.
The California Seed Association (CSA) believes that the use of agricultural biotechnology to produce new seed varieties and to improve on existing seed varieties is as safe as traditional breeding techniques. In fact, the use of recombinant DNA techniques in plant breeding may in some cases be safer than wide crosses or other traditional breeding techniques. Biotechnology offers a more precise and more efficient means of developing new plant varieties.
CSA also believes that crops and foods produced through biotechnology are safe and equivalent to similar foods produced through traditional breeding techniques. We wish to emphasize that the federal government and many in the medical and scientific communities agree with this view. Additionally, consumers have been safely eating foods and using medicines derived from biotechnology for many years.
It is the position of the CSA that the Food and Drug Administration already sufficiently regulates the labeling of foods produced through agricultural biotechnology. If food produced through agricultural biotechnology is different from its traditionally bred counterpart in terms of allergenicity, toxicity or nutritional composition, FDA requires additional testing and that such foods be labeled to reflect such differences. This requirement adequately protects and informs consumers. Requiring special labeling for agricultural biotechnology foods and crops simply due to their method of productionis misleading to the public since these foods are substantially equivalent to and as safe as foods produced through traditional breeding.
Requiring mandatory labels for agricultural biotechnology foods is tantamount to a warning label and would discourage some consumers from buying these foods. It is the position of CSA that it is improper to place warning labels on foods.
CSA also opposes the establishment of agricultural biotechnology food labeling requirements by states or other jurisdictions of government that are different than those established by the federal government. Uniform labeling throughout the country is essential to facilitate commerce in food products.
Also, existing seed labeling requirements along with additional information provided by seed companies gives growers the information they need to properly use biotechnology seed.
CSA wishes to make it clear that mandatory labeling of agricultural biotechnology foods is not simply a matter of printing additional information on a label. A mandatory labeling requirement would require identity preservation from the point of purchasing seed and planting a crop, through production, harvesting, transporting, processing and distribution of that crop. It would require segregation of agricultural biotechnology commodities; the use of dedicated equipment and facilities; special cleaning of facilities and harvesting, transportation and processing equipment; and special documentation and tracking systems, all of which would result in additional costs in bringing these products to market. Additionally, some commodities including soybean products, corn, cottonseed products, wheat and others, may be used as either food products or as animal feed depending on shifts in market prices. Agricultural markets change, not in a matter of minutes, but in a matter of seconds. Thus, an agricultural biotechnology commodity may have to be diverted at the last minute from a food market to an animal feed market with no way to recover the additional costs of identity preservation that would result from mandatory labeling.
A recommendation by a seed distributor that a customer purchase a variety of seed, whether produced through traditional breeding or agricultural biotechnology, should not be automatically deemed to be making a pesticide recommendation even though that variety may have characteristics of pest resistance or herbicide tolerance.Such recommendation may have been made for a variety of agronomic or marketing reasons. Those who merchandise seed have agronomic expertise that other agricultural consultants often do not.
Pest control advisors (PCA) may recommend the use of a variety of seed for pest management purposes. However, since a PCA recommendation is not even required to use a pesticide we oppose requiring a PCA recommendation in order to sell, buy or use a variety of seed even when such varieties have characteristics of virus, nematode or pest resistance or are herbicide tolerant.
CSA believes that the advent of seed enhanced by agricultural biotechnology should not materially change traditional seed warranties. As such, those selling seed should only warrant and indemnify up to the value of the seed sold if a problem arises regardless of how the seed is produced. This position should govern in the conduct of arbitrations or mediations conducted under the mandatory seed arbitration/mediation law in the Food and Agricultural Code.
CSA believes that tolerances relating to the constituents in a lot of seed or commodity being marketed, if deemed necessary, should be science-based for all seed and commodities regardless of how such seed or commodities are produced. Additionally, it is the position of CSA that a tolerance for one commodity may not be suitable for another commodity depending on whether the crop is self-pollinated or cross-pollinated, how long an agricultural biotechnology commodity has been in production in a production area and other conditions or factors. Allowable tolerances should be based on the quality requirements of the product commodity, not on the methods used to develop the crop variety.
We believe mandatory consultation with the FDA interferes with bringing new products to market that will benefit the environment and the public. Therefore, the association opposes mandatory consultation between FDAand biotechnology companies in gaining approval of new agricultural biotechnology varieties. Agricultural biotechnology foods are among the most tested and scrutinized foods on the market. We believe voluntary consultation has proven to be adequate and has provided a high degree of protection to consumers.
CSA opposes implementation of a separate, state approval process for varieties developed using agricultural biotechnology. The California Department of Food and Agriculture currently reviews these varieties and has done so since 1988. A patchwork of various state laws governing agricultural biotechnology would impede the development and introduction of new varieties.
CSA also is opposed to the imposition of planting moratoria on agricultural biotechnology commodities, either across the board or by individual commodity. To do so would place California producers at a competitive disadvantage with producers in other states and countries who have access to new biotechnology products. We have seen a similar economic disadvantage occur due to restricted access to pesticides in California and, as such, believe strongly that California should not impose roadblocks that would restrict introduction of this important technology. Furthermore, CSA believes that California should be a leader in the arena of biotechnology. All California consumers should have the opportunity to benefit from the nutritional and environmental advancements emanating from agricultural biotechnology.
The association supports scientifically validated, accurate, cost effective and expeditious laboratory testing for agricultural biotechnology traits. Stakeholders in agricultural biotechnology should have broad access to testing methods and protocols and USDA and FDA should provide research funding for development of tests.
There should be consensus among all stakeholders as to what laboratories and what sampling and testing protocols should be utilized to provide analyses upon which disputes will be settled. CSA opposes the imposition of agricultural biotechnology-free regulations and agricultural biotechnology restrictions by foreign and domestic entities until and unless standardized and accepted laboratory tests are available and there has been agreement on who will do such testing.
CSA opposes the imposition of mandatory testing requirements for all commodities. Agricultural markets and consumers should determine when testing is necessary or warranted.
AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY EDUCATION
CSA supports educational programming in agricultural biotechnology and urges the University of California and the Seed Biotechnology Center to continue to develop and offer courses in and distribute extension information materials on this discipline. The courses and informational materialsshould cover major aspects regarding the production and distribution of agricultural biotechnology commoditiesin California.
CSA supports increasing penalties for those committing acts of violence in order to thwart the introduction of biotechnology in agriculture and the food industry.
In the seed industry it is the responsibility of the seed company to produce in areas that provide adequate isolation so as to prevent contamination of the seed they are producing. Isolations for ensuring the integrity of crops in production should not automatically be the responsibility of growers employing agricultural biotechnology. Issues related to isolation and cross-contamination and liability regarding same should be resolved through the judicial process. In no case do we believe that seed breeder/producers should be responsibleforcontaminations occurring within production agriculture. Such incidents should be resolved by the parties involved in production of the crops.
Effective identity preservation programs should be developed as needed to facilitate the marketing of both agricultural biotechnology and traditionally bred commodities and seed. We support voluntary identity preservation programs offered by entities who wish to provide such services.
Pest resistance management should be carefully monitored by those involved in agricultural biotechnology. In cases in which resistance management is an issue, refugia and other production methods are effective in dealing with this concern. Determination of necessary procedures for each crop should primarily be the responsibility of the entity developing the variety in consultation with EPA and USDA. It is proper for federal agencies to require modifications to resistance management requirements when warranted by the scientific data.
The use of agricultural biotechnology to develop new, improved varieties of seed offers much to the public by way of more nutritious food, a cleaner, healthier environment and a more sustainable agricultural industry. The technology brings precision to the field of plant breeding and allows for varietal improvement on an expedited basis. Public policy should support and encourage this important new technology which has already proved to be an effective new tool to increase agricultural production, reduce the use of pesticides and make more efficient use of our natural resources.