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Q. What is Excellence Through Stewardship (ETS)?
A. ETS is a global organization that promotes the universal adoption of product stewardship programs and quality management systems for the full life cycle of biotechnology-derived plant products. In order to support industry efforts for the responsible management of biotech plant products, ETS was created in 2008 by 11 organizations. Today, ETS has a diverse membership of over 50 public sector research institutions, technology providers of all sizes, seed producers, and biotech associations from around the world.
Good product stewardship practices have been in place since before the very first products of biotechnology were commercialized. The establishment of ETS focused industry’s already existing efforts into a worldwide set of best management practices that could be more widely shared and implemented. The program applies to biotechnology-derived plant products that have the potential to enter the food or feed supply, including, but not limited to, commodity crops, specialty crops, energy crops, perennials, ornamentals, plant-made pharmaceuticals, and plant-made industrial products. ETS stewardship guides provide best practices for all phases of the product life cycle:
Q. What is product stewardship and quality management?
A. Product stewardship is defined as the responsible management of a product from its inception through to its use and discontinuation. In plant biotechnology, stewardship includes careful attention to the responsible introduction and use of products. Meticulous production methods are necessary so that resulting products contain the desired and expected characteristics.
Quality management is a component of stewardship, which comprises the processes and systems to establish and maintain quality in each phase of the product life cycle. This is essential to ensuring and maintaining quality crops and improving the overall production of food, feed, fuel, and fiber.
Q. What are the objectives of ETS?
A. The objectives of the ETS program include helping our members maintain plant product integrity and support compliance with applicable regulatory requirements. Strong product stewardship programs provide a solid platform that promotes the responsible use of the technology, assists in the prevention of global trade disruption, and maximizes the benefits of the technology. The program encourages active engagement with the food value chain to evaluate and promote appropriate stewardship approaches and drive continuous improvement of the industry’s systems.
Q. What are the components of ETS?
A. There are three basic components of ETS: 1) Principles and Management Practices for the responsible global management of agricultural technology; 2) Training and Resources to assist with the understanding and implementing of product stewardship programs and quality management systems; and, 3) Stewardship Audits to verify that appropriate systems have been implemented and followed.
Q. What are the benefits of ETS for the value chain?
A. ETS provides information and educational materials on stewardship and quality management guidance to global stakeholders. Moreover, the ETS Program helps provide confidence to stakeholders that ETS members have stewardship programs and quality management systems in place.
Q. How do the various components of ETS complement regulatory compliance?
A. All Regular Members of ETS are required to maintain a quality management system and follow the applicable stewardship modules outlined in our guides. Quality management systems are designed to achieve compliance with requirements, including those set by regulatory agencies, with the use of documented processes and activities to ensure effectiveness.
The fulfillment of these requirements is verified by third-party auditors. Regulators around the world have recognized the value of our stewardship program in ensuring responsible management of biotechnology-derived products.
Q. Who can become a member of ETS?
A. Regular Membership is available to organizations around the world engaged in discovering, developing, handling or commercializing biotech plant products. This includes technology companies, academic institutions, public and private research organizations, seed producers, licensees and other service providers to the industry. Associate Membership is available to organizations who do not handle biotech plant products but support the ETS mission.
Q. What are the benefits of ETS membership?
A. ETS provides technical resources and expertise to help its members meet their stewardship commitments as well as opportunities to network with other members. Members who successfully complete the program will see improvements in operational discipline and their quality systems. ETS publicly recognizes those who have joined the organization and subsequently those who have successfully completed the ETS Audit Component. The ETS program is highly regarded throughout the industry and can translate into improved business relationships.
Q. What types of resources are available?
A. The ETS guides provide a foundation for understanding and implementing stewardship programs and quality management systems. These Guides are publicly available and can be found here. We also provide a series of member only resources like checklists, webinars and templates to assist with implementation.
Q. What commitments are made by Regular Members upon joining ETS?
A. Regular Members of ETS must adopt the principles and management practices outlined below: