The U.S. seed industry, through ASTA, has developed the Guide to Seed Quality Management Practices to offer general guidance for the development and production of seed products intended for food, feed, fiber or fuel use and for the maintenance of product integrity and purity of both biotechnology-derived seed and non-biotechnology seed. The Guide covers the plant product life cycle from the point of incorporation of a trait into a breeding program through commercial seed production and sale. The Guide to Seed Quality Management will be maintained in a dynamic and interactive format on the ASTA Web site.

The U.S. seed industry is committed to bringing quality seed to farmers around the world. The Guide is intended to serve as a reference document for companies developing individual quality management practices and operating procedures. Organized to accommodate different seed business models and practices, the Guide allows an organization to utilize the guidance for the respective areas in the seed product life cycle were they perform. A standard set of information following general quality management principles is presented for each stage of the plant product life cycle incorporated within the Guide. Quality management systems provide structure and rigor to business practices. Quality control and seed purity are essential to product development and commercial life cycle and include practices such as tracking mechanisms, effective record keeping, protocols for product testing and appropriate isolation during product development.

With high quality seed, farmers have more choices and the selection of seed is the single most important factor they can control in their operations. There is no substitute for quality seed. Today's seed offers improved genetics, with more solutions for farmers contained within the seed, providing increased yields, better quality crops and a higher return on a farmer's investment. "ASTA is pleased to have developed a tool for organizations to use in order to provide guidance on applying quality management systems to seed industry practices," said ASTA President and CEO Andy LaVigne. "As a first step, we hope that our members find this guidance valuable as they develop their own practices and procedures. Beyond that, the Guide can serve as a foundation for further guidance that may be specific to certain segments of the seed industry or even for our partner seed organizations around the world."

Dr. Wayne Guerke, a consultant in the seed industry who has held positions with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and worked closely with national seed testing organizations, was one of the first to see the Guide. He remarked, "The ASTA Seed Quality Management Guide is a most significant and invaluable contribution to the broader seed industry...or managing quality from the breeder to the grower, conditioner and dealer as well as the testing laboratory. The Guide will serve as an instrument to elevate the diverse elements of seed production and marketing...for maintaining high quality seed."

Founded in 1883, the American Seed Trade Association (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.