ICAC Ushers in Standardized Vocabulary for Cotton Industry

Cotton has been produced for thousands of years, but the commercial industry is about 200 years old, dating from the invention of the cotton gin in 1798. Over the last two centuries, national cotton industries have developed, each with parochial practices in ginning, trading, classing and even breeding and seed multiplication. In a recent survey by ICAC, 36 countries reported 11 different names used for the first category of seed, an even greater number of names for seed produced in the second category, and multiple additional names are commonly applied to seed in subsequent categories. This profusion of labels inhibits cooperation among breeders and adds to complexity in the production and marketing of seed.

The 72nd Plenary Meeting of the ICAC was held in Cartagena, Colombia during 29 September to 4 October 2013.  Among other outcomes, member governments approved a recommendation from the Secretariat to use a standard nomenclature in identifying cottonseed by category. This nomenclature does not cover issues of seed purity, germination and certification standards, which are left to national discretion. The ICAC is neither a regulatory nor enforcement body, but ICAC facilitates industry improvement by showcasing best practices suitable for national adoption based on common agreement. The nomenclature for cottonseed approved by governments is:

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Breeder Seed – Seed produced or supplied by breeders for multiplication purposes only. Seed may be multiplied by the public or private sectors, but always under the supervision of a breeder. Breeder supervision will constitute certification, if required.

Foundation Seed – Seed produced from Breeder Seed. Foundation seed will be used to multiply varieties to supply growers with certified planting seed. External certification by a neutral agency or self-certification will be mandatory. Purity must be at least 99%.

Certified Seed – Seed produced from Foundation Seed that will be supplied to growers.

Registered Seed – Seed produced from Certified Seed by a farmer under his/her own supervision for self-planting or to supply to other farmers. Registered seed should carry the label ‘not certified.’

Commercial Seed – Seed not recommended for planting. Commercial seed will usually go to oil production and livestock feed.