NGFA issues reminder to guard against treated seed 

It is critically important to guard against the presence of treated seed in commodity shipments intended for use in food or feed, said NGFA and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) in an annual reminder to members and to farm and agricultural commodity organizations. 

NAEGA President Gary Martin wrote in a memo about the importance of the “entire U.S. grain and oilseed value chain comply(ing) with U.S. law prohibiting the intentional addition of treated seeds to commodities, and most importantly, to prevent treated seeds from entering the commodity supply.”

Separately, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) has urged farmers with leftover treated seed to contact their seed companies or dealers to learn about their policies and how to properly dispose of such seed. ASTA notes that some seed companies accept returns of treated seeds or will assist producers in storing them until the next planting season. Other seed dealers provide guidelines on proper disposal.

ASTA and other organizations have provided a “Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship,” an industry-wide initiative to promote the safe handling and management of treated seed. The purpose of the guide is to provide farmers and seed treatment applicators with critical information and up-to-date guidelines for managing treated seed effectively to further minimize the risk of exposure to non-target organisms.

Treated seeds are identifiable by their unnatural color (e.g., blue, pink, red and green are common seed-treatment colors) and are intended solely for planting. Commercial seed labels for treated seeds are required to comply with both the Federal Seed Act (FSA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regulations concerning the labeling of treated seed (as found in the Federal Seed Act and 7 CFR Part 201).

Further, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deems commodity shipments in which treated seed is admixed to be adulterated within the meaning of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. FDA also is authorized to take enforcement action against “processed food or feed…derived from a raw agricultural commodity that contains a pesticide residue that does not conform to an established tolerance or tolerance exemption.” In addition, a joint memorandum of understanding developed between FDA and USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) in 1997 obligated FGIS to report to FDA if it detects 20 or more treated seeds are present in a 1,000-gram grain sample.

NGFA members are encouraged to communicate with their grain suppliers and producer-customers about this issue.