The Iowa State University Seed Center has helped six Central American countries cut through the red tape in their seed regulations. The center’s director of international programs, Joe Cortes says the project involved changing the way seeds are tested in the countries. The process used to take up to three years and it now takes just one season of regional testing.He says the countries had 93 different requirements for certifying seeds “disease free”, but not anymore. There are now just two.Cortez says they’ve also worked out a simplified way to protect new seed varieties developed in the country and those that are imported. The project in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Panama took one year to complete. Cortez says cutting the red tape will also yield benefits for Iowa farmers. As the region ranks about tenth as a trade partner, but less restrictive policies should make it easier to trade.Cortez says the program in Cental America has led to another project in the southern cone of the Americas.Cortez this is the first time anyone has done such projects.
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