Victorian to head up international seed body

Leading Victorian seedsman Donald Coles will head up the ISF

Coronavirus
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Victorian to head up seed sector's global voice.

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NEW HEAD: Valley Seeds managing director Donald Coles, Yarck, is the 10th person to be elected International Seed Federation president.

NEW HEAD: Valley Seeds managing director Donald Coles, Yarck, is the 10th person to be elected International Seed Federation president.

A Victorian seedsman has been elected president of the International Seed Federation.

Valley Seeds managing director Donald Coles, Yarck, is the 10th person to hold the position and he will serve a two-year term.

As president of the ISF, Mr Coles said he would chair the organisation's board of directors and executive committee, assisting the Swiss-based team in making quality seed available to all.

"ISF is the global voice of the seed sector," Mr Coles said.

"It covers all types of seed, including pasture, cereals, vegetables and ornamentals.

"We have a number of expert committees that develop policies with the purpose of better informing global government agencies and the entire food chain."

Mr Coles is a past director of the Australian Seed Authority.

In 2012, he was elected president of the Australian Seed Federation.

The primary membership of the ISF is made up of National Seeds Associations (NSA's) from some 60 countries, plus a number of individual seed companies.

These NSA's combined have around 7,500 seed company members.

As an Australian, heading up the global seed organisation, Mr Coles said it was essential to highlight the efforts of the country's plant breeding community, producers and exports.

"Australia leads the world with the export of Lucerne (Alfalfa) and tropical pasture seed, and we also take a leadership role with the introduction of new plant varieties and innovations in plant breeding," Mr Coles said.

"Other parts of the Australian seed sector that have export potential include pasture seed producers.

"Australian farmers are amongst the most efficient in the world and have proven that they can grow many different crops, including high-quality pasture and vegetable seed."

Mr Coles said demand for seed would increase, in line with the global population.

"Traditional seed exporting regions such as Europe and North America are reaching their capacity limits to supply seed, and there is, therefore, is an opportunity to expand this type of farming in Australia."

Mr Coles said the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the role of agriculture, in the steady supply of quality, healthy food.

"Today seed is widely recognised as an essential good and a key element in food production," Mr Coles said.

"This gives us further determination to ensure the efficient movement of quality seed to continue to deliver benefits to the entire value chain.

"Also, it is very important to ensure continued innovation."

New plant breeding methods could contribute solutions to the global challenge of building sustainable food systems in the face of climate change as well as meeting ever-growing consumer demand for quality, healthy food.

"Seed creates food in a matter of weeks."

"The role of agriculture in the steady supply of quality, healthy food has been greatly highlighted during the COVID-19 crisis. Today seed is widely recognised as an essential good and a key element in food production," said Mr Coles.

A great deal of misinformation about plant breeding had been spread around the world over the past twenty-five years.

"The focus of this misinformation has been around human health and safety, and farmer access," Mr Coles said

"The scare tactics used have been ideology-driven rather than based on facts and any genuine understanding of plant breeding."

The science around plant breeding was very well understood and had been developed over hundreds of years.

The proof of food safety and sustainability as a result of plant breeding innovations had been demonstrated over the past one hundred years.

"As a seed sector, we need to explain the basics better," Mr Coles said.

"This was a point highlighted at the recent ISF Virtual Congress by Jeff Rowe from Syngenta.

"A plant breeder's role is to give nature a helping hand.

"We are not redesigning nature itself."

The natural environment changed plant appearance, productivity and sustainability.

Breeders used the lessons learnt from plants themselves to help make plant varieties more sustainable and meet the challenges of climate change.

"The human race would be much smaller if plant breeders had not delivered advancements in plant productivity, resilience and therefore sustainability as part of our efforts to support farmers," Mr Coles said.

"We have nothing to apologise for and everything to celebrate."

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