Variety Review Boards
AOSCA Variety Review Boards (VRB) provide a valuable service to plant breeders and the seed industry.
Variety Review Boards started well over 50 years ago when AOSCA was known as the International Crop Improvement Association. The Association developed the first eligibility requirements for varieties entering certification programs, focusing on genetic purity, novelty, and sufficient data to support claims made by plant breeders for these new varieties. The aim of review boards was to provide uniformity among certifying agencies as new varieties were developed and grown for certified seed.
The first review board was for alfalfa, developing its standards with input from USDA, State Experiment Stations, seed certifying agencies, and the seed industry itself. Over the years, other legumes and clover have been added to this VRB. AOSCA today administers four other VRB’s, as well, for grasses, small grains, soybeans, and sunflowers.
The purpose of the Variety Review Board system is to determine if new crop varieties meet the eligibility requirements of the AOSCA genetic seed certification standards. The Boards accomplish this by providing a central, standardized, and non-biased procedure followed by all plant breeders submitting review applications to AOSCA. VRB membership is comprised of representatives from seed certification agencies, USDA, and the seed industry, thus offering a peer review process for new varieties.
Plant breeders wanting to enter their new varieties into certification programs access the applications through the AOSCA web site. The process is updated annually to provide an efficient system for gathering information for review by the VRB members. The applications and supporting information are submitted to the AOSCA office for electronic distribution to each review board member. The Boards meet annually to consider the applications that have been submitted for review.
Upon receiving a positive review, new plant varieties are recommended for inclusion into seed certification programs administered by AOSCA Agencies. The plant breeders or owners of these varieties receive a certificate from AOSCA and a final VRB report is published and made available at the end of the season.
A similar process is offered by individual seed certifying agencies in cases where a review board is not available for a specific crop type. AOSCA and seed certifying agencies provide a credible process where new varieties may be recognized for their unique value and characteristics. From there, the varieties enter into seed certification for widespread adoption throughout the industry. It is good example of many volunteers working together to encourage the continued development of new varieties that will benefit seed producers and their customers.