The International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) produces internationally agreed rules for seed sampling and testing, accredits laboratories, provides international seed analysis certificates, promotes research, disseminates knowledge in seed science and technology and provides training. This expedites the worldwide standardization of seed quality assessment, facilitates seed trading nationally and internationally, and also contributes to food security.
The ISTA Seed Health Committee (formerly the Plant Disease Committee) began development of guidelines for Comparative Testing of Methods for the Detection of Seed-borne Pathogens in 1993 with the aim of producing validated methods. This process has resulted in a complete revision of the method validation process for ISTA seed testing methodologies as described in the ISTA Method Validation for Seed Testing Programme.
As part of this process the seed health method descriptions that appeared in the Annexe to Chapter 7 of the ISTA Rules were rewritten into a new standardized format. Each method description is now fully validated and a self-contained illustrated package that includes full details of the test including media preparation, quality assurance information, pathogen identification and test evaluation.
Method descriptions are available either as part of the International Rules for Seed Testing or as a separate volume.
The ISTA Method Validation for Seed testing Programme is open to all and guidance on the procedures involved in the validation process is provided by the SHC to those outside ISTA who would like their seed heath methods validated and included in the ISTA Rules. New seed health methods are being added annually as they become validated.
As of 2010 the ISTA Rules contain 26 validated seed health methods which can be downloaded from the ISTA website free of charge.