ASTA Leads Trip for Seed Industry Executives to Japan

  • On February 23, 2024

Alexandria, VA—February 23, 2024— The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) convened member company executives from leading seed companies for a weeklong trip to Japan. The group, led by Dr. Fan-Li Chou, ASTA’s Senior Vice President, Scientific Affairs and Policy, included representatives from GDM, J.R. Simplot Company, and Pairwise, and packed in several days of intense and productive engagement with government and industry partners, with the goal of supporting ongoing bilateral collaboration with our Japanese counterparts. During the trip, the executives participated in a technical seminar at the U.S. Embassy in Japan and a media outreach webinar hosted by the Network for Breeding by Genome Editing on the use of genome editing in plant breeding to support both a healthy planet and its inhabitants.

“The meetings deepened the collaboration between the U.S. and Japanese seed industries and our public sector partners. Our conversations highlighted how genome editing integrated into plant breeding programs develops solutions to challenges facing agriculture and food systems,” said Dr. Chou. “Throughout our meetings in Japan, and in our ongoing advocacy across the United States and with our global partners, ASTA continues to advocate for pro-innovation policies that ensure sustained public and private sector investments in agriculture sciences and support the use of all breeding tools, including genome editing, in plant breeding to bring improved varieties to market.” 

“Japan’s commitment to pioneering innovations, coupled with the government’s unwavering support for the development of innovation-friendly regulatory frameworks, serves as a model for other nations to galvanize towards a globally harmonized regulatory policies” said Agustin Herrera Vegas, Global Intellectual Property Counsel, GDM. “We are optimistic about the future of technology-driven solutions in agriculture,” added Tomas Tresca, Strategy Project Manager, GDM.

“As food companies, we’re all faced with answering the question; how will we continue to feed our growing world population? Genome editing provides some wonderful potential to help us do just that,” said Gary Rudgers, Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs, Simplot Plant Sciences. “We’re excited to be here and exchange knowledge on our experiences developing genome edited crops and the steps in bringing them to the market.”

“Pairwise is working to tackle some of the most pressing challenges in food and agriculture – challenges that need to be addressed in years, not decades. This includes pioneering the application of CRISPR technology to improve the convenience of nutrient-dense foods and develop new crop varieties so that producers can do more with less in the face of a changing climate. To solve these problems, we must accelerate innovation while simultaneously closing the gap between technology, consumers, growers, and regulators. Bilateral collaboration will be an imperative driver of success in delivering these needed solutions,” said Dan Jenkins, Vice President of Regulatory and Government Affairs, Pairwise.

GDM, J.R. Simplot Company, and Pairwise represent the diversity of ASTA’s members, as well as the diversity of crops that can benefit from integrating genome editing into a plant breeding program.  Japan is a global leader in implementing genome editing regulatory policy that incentivized innovation from academia, scientists, and small and medium sized companies. Seed is one input that cannot be substituted.  ASTA members use the latest innovations across the industry, including plant breeding innovation, such as genome editing, to bring improved plant varieties to farmers around the world to meet the food, feed, and fiber needs of a grown population.

J.R. Simplot Company’s Gary Rudgers, Pairwise’s Dan Jenkins, and GDM’s Agustin Herrera Vegas and Tomas Tresca participated in a roundtable hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Toyko, Japan. (Photo credit: American Seed Trade Association)

J.R. Simplot Company’s Gary Rudgers, Pairwise’s Dan Jenkins, and GDM’s Agustin Herrera Vegas and Tomas Tresca participated in a roundtable hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Toyko, Japan. (Photo credit: American Seed Trade Association)

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Founded in 1883, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) represents nearly 700 companies involved in seed production, plant breeding and related industries in North America. ASTA is the leading voice of action in all matters concerning the development, marketing and movement of seed, associated products and services throughout the world. The association’s broad membership offers varieties from alfalfa to zucchini and all production types including conventional, organic and biotech. ASTA promotes the development of better seed to produce better crops for a better quality of life.