Monday, January 3, 2011

US [transgene?] Testing Network

"With over 80% of the corn grown in the US genetically modified, and biotechnology companies phasing out non-GMO corn seed varieties, American farmers have fewer choices for finding non-GMO seeds to grow. 
As a result of this narrowing of farmer choice, a new initiative was launched in 2009 by Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) to address the problem. The US Testing Network (USTN) aims to develop and introduce new non-GMO corn hybrids in the market, while improving the quality and quantity of non-GMO corn hybrids available."
I haven't heard of any of these organizations before (and would be interested if you know something about them), but it sounds like an interesting project. I couldn't care less about avoiding transgenes, but I love the idea of small companies, public sector scientists and enthusiastic individuals working together to improve germplasm for niche markets too small for the big seed companies to serve. 

Do you have any experience with these organizations?

h/t: Seed Today


  1. There are a few smaller hybrid seed companies in Canada. You can get inbred lines from a variety of places and some do come from public programs. They are easy to cross and because all you need to test is the F1 evaluation is relatively easy. What do you want to know about them?

  2. I'm curious if these guys are initiating a new coordination of niche variety development and distribution or just testing seed for the presence of transgenes. A lot of small-scale breeding is pretty invisible to the public (e.g. individual breeders at ag universities running their own programs), but if you know of any pubs or websites that describe any coordinated multi-organization efforts, I'd be interested.

  3. I forgot to mention it but this post (and all others with "Biofortified" in the keywords) was also posted at the Biofortified site, which generally accumulates more commenting for anyone who's interested.

  4. Good to know about the comments, I should follow biofortified more.
    Depends on what you mean about niche variety, I know some companies do work on making shorter seasoned corn for northern markets.There is definitely talk between public and private programs but as far as I can tell the majority of the inbreds usually come from private companies.



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