The American Seed Trade Association brought its annual conference to Indianapolis for the first time in its 131 year history. The meeting is focusing policy issues, business opportunities, and challenges associated with the industry. “Indianapolis is called the Crossroads of America, and that is true for the ASTA as over two-thirds of our members are within driving distance,” said Craig Newman, president and CEO of AgReliant Genetics and the association chairman. “We have over 700 members who grow all types of seed. From A to Z — alfalfa to zucchini — we represent all those different types.”
The association partnered with Purdue University to offer educational sessions prior to the convention. The Seed Leadership Program included sessions on marketing, leadership and precision agriculture. The sessions are designed for those in low to middle management, but would be beneficial to anyone looking for educational opportunities in the seed industry. ASTA also offered a session on cover crops, the first time that subject has been dealt with at the ASTA meeting.
The keynote speech was given Thursday by Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue University. He told the conference, “Science is in favor of biotech. But we need to make it a moral argument, and we need to take it outside this room. It’s bogus for people to try and alarm consumers about fictional difficulties with biotechnology. But the fight against biotechnology is anti-poor. We have arguments for labeling products. Well, I have one for GMOs. Being anti-GMO should be labeled as heartless, cruel, and frankly immoral.” The conference also included presentations by two World Food Prize laureates from Purdue, Gebisa Ejeta and Philip Nelson, who shared their insights on the seed industry.