Tuesday, November 8, 2016

State's Seed Testing Lab Moving to Albany


The state’s Seed Testing Laboratory will now be run by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets and housed within its state-of-the-art New York State Food Laboratory in Albany.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced Nov. 8 that, in partnership with Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the lab would move to the Albany facility. 

Currently operated by and located at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station on the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Geneva campus, the Seed Lab provides assurances to the agricultural community that seed used in production is healthy and robust.

“Our Food Lab is a cutting-edge facility that houses some of the world’s best and brightest scientists,” said Ball. “Staff provide extensive and essential consumer protection services by testing foods and other products for purity, wholesomeness and accurate labeling.”

“By partnering with Cornell University to bring the Seed Lab to Albany and house it within our Food Lab, we’re able to offer additional efficiency in testing services to the agricultural industry,” he said.

“For more than 130 years, the Seed Lab in Geneva has provided the highest quality routine seed quality tests — such as those for germination, moisture, purity, and vigor — along with more specialized tests to the state’s farmers and producers,” said Susan Brown, the Goichman Family Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.

“Many of our academic departments have worked closely with the lab and it is a legacy we look forward to continuing in Albany,” she said.

Established in 1882, the Seed Lab provides high quality seed results and reporting to residents, growers and seed companies. Since 1912, the lab has been operating as the regulatory laboratory for New York state, testing inspection samples to verify accuracy of product content and labeling for the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. 

The lab performs critical functions for the agricultural industry, testing 800 samples annually to insure that seed purchased by New York state farmers and consumers is true to label claim, meets minimum germination standards and is free of noxious weed seeds.

The Department and Cornell University are working together to successfully transfer the Seed Lab. The Seed Lab will continue to process samples in Geneva until the transfer of equipment to the Food Lab is complete, which is expected by the end of the year. 

Growers and businesses will be notified by mail, prior to the opening of the new space, of the exact timeline and Albany mailing address to send samples. They can also find updates on the Seed Lab’s website at http://blogs.cornell.edu/nyseedlab/.

The lab, at its new Albany location, will continue to offer its services and expertise on a fee basis, which will remain unchanged, to a wide range of clientele.

In addition, the department has hired Kyle Arvin as its Seed Lab director, who will manage client services and regulatory testing. Enforcement will continue as a separate function within the department. 

Arvin has 25 years of experience in seed-related testing, working both in the private and public sector, including as the director of the New York State Seed Testing Laboratory, based at Cornell University. 

During his time at the NYS Seed Testing Lab in Geneva, he oversaw the facility’s seed testing services and coordinated with graduate students and faculty in their research on seeds. He also worked cooperatively with the states of New York, New Hampshire and Vermont to provide testing lab services for their state seed regulatory programs. 

Arvin worked frequently with the New York Seed Improvement Program, which operates within Cornell’s Plant Breeding extension program and consists of a certified seed division.

Most recently, Arvin was a Registered Seed Technologist with Dow AgroSciences, North American Seed Quality Control Laboratory, in West Lafayette, Ind., where he trained new analysts how to perform seed testing and worked on a global seed quality testing team. His work in Indiana helped the laboratory become an USDA Accredited Seed Laboratory.

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