Chinese officials learn more about U.S. seed industry

In cooperation with the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), Latham Hi-Tech Seeds President John Latham recently hosted tours for a Chinese delegation consisting of 17 seed company managers and government officials plus their interpretator.

“The purpose was for Chinese leaders to see there is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to the U.S. seed industry.  The U.S. model is a great example of how family-owned businesses and multinational companies all play an important role in the seed industry,” says Lisa Nichols, ASTA’s director of international programs.  “China is currently in the process of revising its seed law.  It’s our hope that the information gained from their U.S. visit will help change China’s policies, practices, and regulations to best support a modern seed industry.”

This U.S. visit is just one example of how the ASTA has been working over the past five years with China’s key seed industry and government stakeholders.  Last summer Bernice Slutsky, ASTA’s vice president of science and international affairs, traveled to Beijing where she met with individuals and agencies involved in the seed industry.

“Our goal is to be an advocate for policies that will enable our members to successfully conduct business in major markets, including China,” said Slutsky.  “Policies surrounding intellectual property rights, variety registration and technology transfer are of utmost importance.  In the longer term, we would like to see China update its system from the 1978 International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) standards to comply with the UPOV revisions of 1991, which is a more robust system.”

Working together and forming agreements is about making sure companies are protected and about facilitating the movement of seed on a global level, added Slutsky. “It was an honor to host such a distinguished group of seedsmen from China,” says John Latham.  “The U.S. and China are very dependent on each other in this world economy. We need to continue to find better ways to work together to feed a growing world population. This visit was a step in that process.”