Seed Science Center director appointed as USDA chairman

Manjit Misra

Manjit Misra

Jessi Wilson

Manjit Misra, director of Iowa State’s Seed Science Center, was recently named chairman of the National Genetic Resources Advisory Council.

“It says that I have been able to serve science and technology in the seed area and also helped the industry to grow,” Misra said.

The purpose of the council is to advise the Secretary of Agriculture and director of the National Genetic Resources Program on topics relating to conserving and utilizing genetic resources for food and agriculture.

The council is made of nine appointed committee members, which Misra said are from various universities, private sectors and other diverse backgrounds. This includes people from the organic and biotechnology communities.

Nominees for this committee are reviewed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which appoints committee members and the council’s chairman.

“They go through a selection with criteria and see who is able to contribute,” Misra said. “They also make sure that there are representatives from different backgrounds.”

This selection process and pursuit of diverse candidates allow for many different opinions to be brought to the committee which, Misra explained, allows improvements to be made in various elements of agriculture.

“The role of the chairman is to make sure that the whole team is working together to improve American agriculture and to contribute to the global food security,” Misra said.

Misra will reign as chairman of the council for a four-year term and said he is very honored to serve on the council.

“We’re very pleased to see that this appointment has been made, and we look forward to the types of activities that will come out of this,” said Jeff Wolt, professor of agronomy. “We’re very happy that the Seed Science Center at Iowa State University is being recognized in this way, especially Dr. Misra.”

The Seed Science Center has the world’s largest seed-testing laboratory in the public sector, and the center has worked in over 80 countries in the last 12 years, helping seed systems.

“The Iowa State University Seed Center is considered a global center of excellence in seed science, technology and systems,” Misra said. “So this is the qualifications that I bring to the committee: being involved in seed research, seed testing and technology classified both domestically and internationally.”

The chairman’s term will include biannual meetings, as well as teleconferences, but Misra said that commitment to the council is more important than its time commitment.

Misra’s qualifications include serving Iowa State’s Seed Science Center for over 30 years, originally as a faculty member and now as director.

“It speaks very highly of the Seed Science Center that we are so well-recognized in terms of the expertise of the personnel here, especially our director, Dr. Misra,” Wolt said. “It’s a pretty high-level appointment to have. Genetic resources are obviously important to U.S. agriculture.”

Misra said that Ames and Iowa State have a very long-standing partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a regional station that includes the National Animal Disease Center and the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, which are located in Ames.