|Aim of ISTA Accreditation
For more than 80 years ISTA has stood for uniformity in seed testing. ISTA was founded in 1924 with the aim to develop and publish standard procedures in the field of seed testing.
The aim of ISTA Accreditation is to verify if a seed testing laboratory is technically competent to carry out seed testing procedures in accordance with the ISTA Rules. Accredited laboratories must show that they run a quality management system fulfilling the requirements of the ISTA Laboratory Accreditation Standard.
Definitions and Abbreviations
Accreditation: procedure by which an authoritative body gives formal recognition that a body or person is competent to carry out specific tasks.
Accreditation body: body that conducts and administers an accreditation system and grants accreditation.
Audit: systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining audit evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which audit criteria are fulfilled.
Auditor/Assessor: person with competence to conduct an audit.
Authorisation: approval by the ISTA Executive Committee that an ISTA accredited laboratory may issue ISTA International Seed Analysis Certificates.
ISTA Laboratory Accreditation Standard: document provided by the ISTA Secretariat and approved by the Executive Committee where requirements of the quality management systems are laid down. Seed testing laboratories are assessed against this standard.
ISTA Rules: ISTA International Rules for Seed Testing, published by the Association.
Laboratory Proficiency Test Programme: determination of laboratory testing performance by means of inter-laboratory comparisons.
On-site assessment: part of the audit conducted by an ISTA audit team to verify compliance of the current quality management system with the requirements of the ISTA Laboratory Accreditation Standard which takes place in the premises of the laboratory.
Quality Manual: document specifying the quality management system of an organisation.
Re-accreditation audit: audit conducted every three years after the first audit to verify maintenance of the quality management system.
Repeat audit: additional assessment conducted after a (re-)accreditation audit to verify the suitability of corrective actions taken to address audit findings. This might be necessary when major non-compliances occur and removal cannot be verified through submission of documents.
Scope of accreditation: The scope of accreditation gives details of activities for which the laboratory is accredited in terms of methods in the current version of the ISTA Rules and species mentioned there, including methods for which a laboratory can be accredited under the Performance Based Approach. It cannot comprise methods described only in ISTA Handbooks or Working Sheets. The scope of accreditation must be documented and communicated to the staff members.
Re-assessment of Accredited Laboratories
Accreditation is valid for three years, starting from the date of the audit. A re-assessment should take place within three months of the third anniversary of accreditation.
Duties of an Accredited Laboratory
An ISTA accredited laboratory is obliged to:
- advise the ISTA Secretariat in advance of any significant changes to its ownership, affiliation, organisation, location, or any other matter relevant to its status as an ISTA accredited member laboratory. The ISTA Secretariat will then assess the effect of such changes, on a case-by-case basis, and if accreditation may be maintained or whether maintenance is dependant on the result of an audit.
- provide any additional documentation and/or survey information relating to its accreditation, as requested by the ISTA Secretariat.
- continuously abide by the ISTA Laboratory Accreditation Standard once accreditation is granted.
- immediately discontinue the use of ISTA Certificates and return any unused ISTA Certificates and the Certificate of Accreditation to the ISTA Secretariat in the event of withdrawal or termination of accreditation. Conditions for termination, suspension and withdrawal of accreditation are laid down in 'Procedures for Termination, Suspension and Withdrawal of ISTA Accreditation' obtainable from the ISTA Secretariat.
Register of Accredited Laboratories
A directory of accredited laboratories is published by ISTA, including the names of the laboratories and their scope of accreditation. Details of every new or re‑accredited laboratory are published in Seed Testing International.
Keeping of Records
The documents concerning the accreditation process for individual laboratories are kept by the ISTA Accreditation Department.
All information and documents regarding current accreditations and their results are kept confidential.
Use of ISTA Logo and the Way of Referring to the Accreditation Granted
ISTA accredited laboratories may refer to their accreditation status on letters and reports. The use of the ISTA logo, which is a registered trade mark, by members for example for public relations' purposes is restricted following the regulations of the Association.
The ISTA Accreditation Procedure Step-by-Step