Government (UK)It is hard to illustrate direct links between the UK government and Advanta. However Advanta have benefited considerably from the UK government's favourable attitude towards agricultural biotechnology. The handling of the GM contamination case in spring/summer 2000 (see section on Corporate Crimes) exemplifies/illustrates the nature of the UK government-Advanta relationship. The UK government first tried to cover the up the contamination, and then waited until after the seeds were planted before informing farmers and the public. Through their membership of the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB) Advanta exert influence over the running of GM Farm Scale Trials. The trials are a government funded project co-ordinated by DEFRA (Department For Rural Affairs) with considerable input from SCIMAC (Supply Chain Initiative on Agricultural Crops). SCIMAC was founded in June 1998 'to support the responsible and effective introduction of GM crops in the UK'. It is made up of representatives from 5 agricultural organisations. British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB), British Agrochemicals Association (BAA), National Farmers Union (NFU), United Kingdom Agricultural Supply Trade Association (UKASTA) and British Sugar Beet Seed Producers Association (BSBSPA). As mentioned above Advanta have hosted Farm Scale Trials at their Boothby Graffoe test station . Alongside the farm-scale trials, the UK government (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) carries out National Seed List Trials. In the UK these trials are administered by NIAB (National Institute of Agricultural Botany). With few exceptions all agricultural seeds species must be included on the National List or the EC Common Catalogue before seed can be sold in the UK and European Union. Once a valid application for National Listing is made, seed of the variety will be requested for tests and trials designed to assess whether the variety is distinct, uniform and stable (DUS), whether it has value for cultivation and use (VCU). It is these trials that account for many deliberate releases of GM crops in the UK. Advanta have hosted National Seed Listing Trials for GM crops at their Boothby Graffoe test station . NIAB – National Institute of Agricultural Botany (http://www.niab.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi)
NIAB is a nominally independent charitable body specialising in plant research, especially testing the performance of new seed varieties. NIAB not only conducts research for the National Seed List Trials, but also for life sciences and seed companies including Advanta. Friends of the Earth UK accused both NIAB and Advanta (member of the NIAB Association) of illegally planting a GM crop, making a false statement and committing perjury following the public decontamination of the controversial GM National Seed List trial at Hood Barton, Devon, UK (see corporate crimes section below).
Government (US)The USDA, FDA, EPA and a few other federal institutions share responsibility for agricultural biotechnology and food safety. Marc Lefebvre, biotechnology research manager for Advanta, talking about a project aiming to improve sugar beet output traits: "There is relatively few researchers in the world working on transgenic beets. That’s why it is important to collaborate with others. We have a nice relationship with USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and others from a technical perspective."
"When you talk with (European) politicians privately, they support GMO because it will help food production capabilities in a world with limits of land and water resources and an ever-increasing population."
Lobby GroupsAdvanta is part of the following seed industry associations and lobby groups, either directly or indirectly, for example, through membership of national associations: BSPB (British Society of Plant Breeders)
Advanta Seeds UK is a member of the BSPB. Tony Guthrie of Advanta Seeds is a member of the board of the BSPB and was formerly chairman . As well as participating in SCIMAC BSPB activities have included lobbying for reforms to the UK seed certification process (including national seed listing trials) to reduce cost to plant breeders, lobbying both the UK government and EU for the acceptance of traces of GM material in supplies of non-GM seed. The BSPB have also lobbied hard for the introduction of a scheme whereby seed producers are remunerated by farmers for farm saved seed (i.e. seed not purchased from seed companies). ISTA (International Seed Testing Association) (www.seedtest.org/)
Advanta BV is a member of the ISTA. The primary purpose of the International Seed Testing Association is to develop, adopt and publish standard procedures for sampling and testing seeds and to promote uniform application of these procedures for evaluation of seeds moving in international trade. FIS (The International Seed Trade Federation)
FIS was established in 1924. It is a non-profit group of national associations as well as individual seed companies. With members spread over 66 developed and developing countries of all continents, it represents the mainstream of the world seed trade and serves as an international forum where the general problems of the seed industry are discussed. FIS represents the international seed trade, notably in the international governmental organisations and NGOs (OECD, ISTA, ICC, WIPO, UPOV, FAO, etc.). It maintains regular contacts with these bodies in order to promote the viewpoint of the seed industry. This essentially means defending the general interests of its members, notably in improving the conditions of international seed trade, in resisting trade barriers and regulations of protectionist nature, and in fighting against the illegal trade in farm-saved seed. Advanta UK is represented at FIS through its membership of the British Society of Plant Breeders. ASSINSEL (http://www.worldseed.org/assinsel.html)
ASSINSEL, the International Association of Plant Breeders for the Protection of Plant Varieties, was founded in 1938. Today it is composed of 45 individual organisations involved in plant breeding spread over 31 developed and developing countries, which in turn represent more than 1000 companies world-wide. Advanta Seeds UK is represented at ASSINSEL through its membership of the BSPB Mission: ‘To represent at the international level and to promote through national organisations the interests of plant breeders and others who may share a common and active major interest in the creation of new plant germplasm; to establish and protect the intellectual property rights which follow from investments in such activities and to take all necessary steps to achieve these goals.’ The General Assemblies of both the FIS and ASSINEL adopted a motion in Rome on May 25, 2000 for the merger of the two associations. Whilst seed trade and plant breeding were dealt with by different companies in the past decades, they are now more and more integrated in companies dealing with all activities. This justified integration of FIS and ASSINSEL in a single structure. The name of the new association will be the "International Seed Federation (ISF)". Web site ISF: www.worldseed.org/merger.html http://www.ifrn.bbsrc.ac.uk/neodiet/) The priorities for NEODIET are ‘to focus on examining the potential need for improving a selected range of essential nutrients and beneficial factors present in plant foods but where the levels are possibly inadequate for health.’ Dr Rindert Peerbolte of Advanta is part of NEODIET’s Task Group 1 on biosynthesis and genetic manipulation of nutrients and protective factors in foods. NEODIET believes biotechnology offers great potential to improve the nutritional content of food crops. For example, the controversial Vitamin A enhanced ‘golden rice’.
 A critique of the SCIMAC Code of Practice and Guidelines for Growing Genetically Modified Crops by Friends of the Earth SCIMAC: www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/scimac.html
 Reference: www.economictimes.com/250500/25opin03.htm
 (Vanderhave Seed Facts)