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ISF was formed in 2002 following the merger of ASSINSEL and FIS, bringing together their respective areas of expertise: plant breeding and seed trading.


1924: First International Seed Congress in London – FIS (Fédération Internationale du Commerce des Semences) and ISTA (International Seed Testing Association) established

1928: FIS Congress in Bologna – first draft of the Rules for the International Trade in Herbage Seed presented

1929: FIS Congress in Paris – Rules for International Trade in Herbage Seed come into force


1930: First edition of the FIS Rules for International Arbitration Procedure adopted; FIS Congress in Budapest

1931: First International Rules for Seed Testing adopted by ISTA who also established the ISTA Certificates Scheme

1938: International Association of Plant Breeders for the Protection of Plant Varieties (ASSINSEL – Association Internationale des Sélectionneurs pour la Protection des Obtentions Végétales) is formed with the aim of establishing an efficient system for the protection of new plant varieties


Activity in the seed sector slows during World War II


1950: FIS Congress, Paris marks the re-start of activity in the post-war period – Rules and Usages for the Trade in Seeds for Sowing Purposes revised

1951: International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) adopted

1955: FIS extends its activities beyond forage and turf to form the Cereal Section

1956: ASSINSEL Congress in Semmering, Austria – motion passed calling for a diplomatic conference to consider the protection of plant varieties

1957: First International Conference for the Protection of Plant Varieties in Paris


1961: First Act of the UPOV Convention adopted

1963: Genetic code deciphered

1964: Forest and Tree Seed Group established (which later became the Tree and Shrub Seed Group)

1968: FDIS Congress, New York (see image)


1970: 8th edition of the FIS Rules and Usages adopted – Canadian and US associations declare their commitment to the Rules

1973: Development of hybrid rice in China

1977: Merger of the FIS and ASSINSEL Secretariats as plant breeders and seed producers start to become a single entity

1978: Joint FIS/ASSINSEL Congress in Hamburg (see image)


1980: First polymorphic RFLP marker described

1983: First stable transformations of plants by genetic engineering published

1987: First unsuccessful attempt to merge FIS and ASSINSEL


1991: New Act of the UPOV Convention adopted

1992: Convention on Biological Diversity published – a pivotal document on national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity

1993: First international seed health initiatives by FIS members

1994: 12th edition of the Rules and Usages adopted

1995: World Trade Organization’s TRIPs (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement requiring the protection of plant varieties comes into force

1995: Motions for the accreditation of seed companies for seed testing and certification adopted by FIS

1999: Accreditation of seed companies for field inspection in implementation of the OECD seed schemes


2000: Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety adopted

2001: International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGFRA) adopted

2002: FIS and ASSINEL merge to become the International Seed Federation (ISF)

2003: Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety comes into force

2004: ITPGRFA comes into force

2005: Full accreditation of seed companies for seed certification under the OECD seed schemes and for issue of ISTA orange certificate


Nagoya Protocol (2010) adopted in Nagoya, Japan