ISTA Accreditation Procedure in Six Steps.
ISTA requires that its member laboratories wishing to issue ISTA Certificates should fulfill the ISTA Accreditation Standard. The quality assurance program of the laboratory should be assessed on-site by two ISTA auditors. The following six steps explain the procedure for laboratories interested to get ISTA Accreditation.

1. ISTA Membership: Laboratories intending to become accredited have to become ISTA  member first. They should contact the ISTA Secretariat for the necessary application forms and complete the form (Form D) available from the Secretariat. The ISTA Executive Committee will then decide about the application and grant membership. .

2. Participation in ISTA Proficiency Testing Program: All accredited laboratories and those  interested to be accredited have to participate successfully in the ISTA Inter-laboratory ~ Proficiency Testing Program, consisting of at least three referee test rounds per year. Seed samples of known quality are sent to the laboratories to carry out the examination according  to the ISTA Rules. The results have to be reported within a three months period. The results are then statistically analyzed. The participating laboratories get a detailed evaluation sheet 4 that shows their performance. In case results are out of tolerance, the participating laboratory gets a test leader report advising possible corrective actions to take to enhance the laboratory's perfonnance continuously.

3. Establishment of Quality Assurance Program: A laboratory that wishes to be accredited has to set up its own Quality Assurance Program including quality documentation following the ISTA Accreditation Standard and its bylaws. This standard is based on ISO 25 guide, but has been especially amended to meet the needs of seed testing laboratories. For example sampling as an important preliminary stage of testing has been included and only the sampling and testing procedures prescribed in the ISTA Rules are accepted. An agreement with the current ISO 17025 for testing and calibration laboratories is previewed

 4.ISTA Audit
Prior to accreditation , and every three years thereafter, the laboratories are audited by two ISTA auditors(System and technical auditor)and based on the auditions recommendation and the performance in the referee tests, accreditation is granted. Prior to the audit, the laboratories are requested to submit the quality documents translated into one of the official languages of ISTA to the secretariat. The auditors will check the appropriateness of these documents prior to the audit.If the documents are considered appropriate for auditing a date will be arranged accordingly with the laboratory.The quality documents should be atleast contain a description of the quality assurance system,standard operational procedures(SOPís) and working instructions for all test methods carried out in the laboratory.

5. Authorization to issue ISTA Certificates
: After having successfully fulfilled the requirements of accreditation, authorization to issue 1ST A Certificates is obtained through the agreement of the government of  the respective country. Therefore, the applicant is requested to complete Annex D of the application from by  the respective government.

 6. Establishment of Monitoring System: Upon decision of the government of each country a Monitoring System could be established for company laboratories.

The ISTA Accreditation is valid for three years. After the three year period a re- accreditation audit has to take place to maintain the accreditation status and the authorization to issue IST A Certificates. For further information on the ISTA quality assurance program please refer to the Secretariat: Martina Rosch ISTA Secretariat,
P.O. Box 308, 8302 Bassersdoif, Switzerland

 Fax: ++41-1-8386001; E-mail:

After the 27th ISTA Congress 2004, the International Seed Testing Association issued two press releases on authorization to issue ISTA certificates and the completion of its experiment on accreditation and authorization of company seed testing laboratories. According to the first press release (01/2004), member governments of ISTA approved a constitutional change and decided that accreditation of a seed testing laboratory including authorization to issue ISTA International Seed Lot Certificate as purely a technical task and authorization through the national Designated Authorities unnecessary. In another press release (02/2004) ISTA finalized its Experiment on the Accreditation, and Authorization of Company Seed Testing Laboratories from 1999 to 2004 and presented the results to the members. The data obtained from the ISTA Proficiency Tests, the ISTA .Audit Program and monitoring data from some member countries showed that there is no It difference between company and non-company laboratories. The member countries accepted the recommendation of IST A to finalize the experiment and establish it as a permanent regime. Therefore, company seed testing laboratories can become accredited ISTA members, and authorized to issue ISTA Certificates.

Relationships: ISTA, AOSA and OECD
ISTA is one of a number of organizations in the seed world. To begin with, there is another organization, the Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA), which is involved in the standardization of seed testing procedures in the USA and Canada, and publishes its own seed testing rules especially adapted for the market in North America. Nowadays, ISTA and  the AOSA have a joint committee on the harmonization of rules and work together in a number of other ways

ISTA provides testing services for companies trading seed
internationally and so it is important that we have a good
working relationship with the International Seed Trade Federation (PIS). The OECD Seed Schemes provide a system
 for the assurance of varietal purity and identity for seed moving in international trade,and are normally used in
tandem with ISTA seed lot certificates, which carry the results of other quality tests. For this reason, ISTA and OECD have always worked closely together. Some of the recent discussions in OECD have centered on the possibility that seed tests could be made by seed testing laboratories other than ISTA members.