After a lengthy and very detailed inspection process, the Seed Health Lab at CIMMYT has become the first in the CG system to receive International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification. The Mexican Accreditation Entity (EMA) for the ISO was very thorough, said Monica Mezzalama, head of the Seed Inspection and Distribution Unit (SIDU). “It was sometimes tense, but I knew our procedures were already at a high level, so I wasn’t really worried,” she said.
Seed can carry pathogens— viruses, bacteria, or fungi—that reduce the viability of the seed itself or prevent the plants from growing well. When seed is consumed directly as food or feed, seed-borne organisms may cause chemical changes, degrade seed contents, or release powerful toxins that can harm humans and livestock. In the best of cases, food is simply wasted; in the worst, famine or poisoning can result. Certain seed-borne pathogens are endemic to specific areas of the world; great efforts are made to confine them.
Until recently, seed health standards at CIMMYT were self-imposed, in cooperation with the government of Mexico. The implementation of free trade agreements between Mexico and other countries—particularly the USA and Canada—brought a commitment from Mexico to ensure that all seed originating from the country conformed to international norms.
Congratulations to all who helped the Seed Health Lab achieve this important goal!