8 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM STANDARDS AND STANDARDIZATION For seed testing results to be meaningful and be understood and interpreted in a similar way globally, the testing methods used to assess seed quality should be agreed upon and followed in all testing laboratories. Test standardization needs to include agreement over the appropriate sampling method and sample size; all the minute steps, components, and conditions along the testing protocol; the units in which the results are expressed; and the format that the results are reported in. At the begin- ning of the 20th century seed scientists and analysts have set the foundation of two major organizations that are the pillars of seed testing standardization until present days: The Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA), and the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) AOSA: AOSA was formed in 1908 in an effort to perfect and publish uniform rules for seed testing. Members include official state, federal, and university seed laboratories across the United States and Canada. Another USA based organization, the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists (SCST) is mirroring the AOSA in the private sector, and includes seed technologists from commercial and company laboratories from across North America. The two organizations are working in concert through the activities of joint Standing Committees and subcommittees that are focusing on the creation and improvement of the AOSA seed rules, and ensuring that testing procedures are standard- ized between analysts and between laboratories. In addition to the seed testing rules, the main vehicle to seed testing stand- ardization used by AOSA/SCST is the training and certification of seed analysts as Registered Seed Technologists (RST) and Registered Genetic Technologists (RSG) assuring that analysts are trained and operate according to their rules. ISTA: ISTA was established in 1924 and according to the last published (2015) Annual Report enumerates 217 member laboratories and about 100 individual seed analysts from 80 different countries. The association was created as a forum for official government laboratories, and still today only government representatives have the right to vote. At the heart of the asso- ciation are 18 technical committees, made up of expert analysts from around the world who are working together to develop and update seed testing methods. These methods are updated peri- odically and are voted into official rules once a year during an annual Ordinary General Meeting. The rules are published at the beginning of the consecutive year as the official ISTA rules. Complementing the rules are testing handbooks that include more detailed technical information and are updated when needed. The main instrument for testing standardization is the ISTA laboratory accreditation program. Accredited laboratories are audited once every three years for their adherence to the ISTA quality assurance standard and ISTA rules. In addition, the association is organizing several annual proficiency tests that allow laboratories to bench mark their testing capabilities. The participation in the proficiency tests is open to all labora- tories, but it is mandatory for ISTA accredited labs which are required to consistently maintain a high score throughout the proficiency tests to retain their accreditation. ISTA accreditation provides laboratories with the right to provide their customers with ISTA certificates which are a standardized report of seed testing results and are yet another major contribution to inter- national standardization. The ISTA certificates have created a common language that seed professionals across the world are using when it comes to parameters of seed quality. The International Seed Federation (ISF), the leading international seed trade organization, endorses the use of the certificates and they were incorporated as a requirement in a number of seed laws around the world. A germination seed table.