Germplasm Enhancement of Maize

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 Gem By Laws:


                                   TECHNICAL STEERING GROUP (GEM TSG)


The name of this organization shall be the GERMPLASM ENHANCEMENT OF MAIZE TECHNICAL STEERING GROUP (GEM TSG).  A description of the GEM Project’s structure and its mission statement can be found in the Appendix.


The purpose of this organization shall be to serve as a technical steering group for the Germplasm Enhancement of Maize Project.  It is acknowledged that germplasm development is a dynamic process and must continue to introduce new methods and technologies.

The functions of the TSG include:

1) Act as a body representative of the GEM cooperators and all stakeholders on technical issues relative to the project’s mission.

2) Promote and contribute to coordinated evaluation efforts that encourage the utilization of exotic maize germplasm to increase genetic diversity,

3) Provide technical input to and consult with GEM Project staff and other USDA-ARS leadership regarding technical aspects, objectives, and accomplishments of the GEM Project.

4) Provide technical input regarding new GEM cooperative projects for the evaluation, development, and knowledge of maize germplasm from exotic sources and about the resources needed to support these projects,  

5) Provide technical guidance for trait prioritization, new breeding methods, and genomic/genetic technologies based on state of the art knowledge, expertise and experience,   

6) Upon request, furnish or disseminate information to requestors concerning the GEM Project, such as its objectives and the resources needed to address the latter.


Membership of the technical steering group shall consist of plant scientists and researchers (both in the public and private sectors) who are interested in the phenotypic and genotypic characterization and evaluation of exotic maize germplasm, and in applications which ultimately enable utilization of a broad range of diverse germplasm.  Members are elected by vote of the GEM Cooperators (see Article VI). The term of office for TSG members is 3 years; after serving two consecutive terms, it is strongly encouraged that rotation occur and a past member wait 3 years before serving another 3-year term. The membership shall not exceed 12 members (assuming there is an immediate past Chair, otherwise there are 11 TSG members).   The TSG membership shall include 7 members from industry, and 2 from the public sector who can contribute to the accomplishment of the GEM Project mission.  Ex-officio USDA members include the GEM Coordinator, two USDA-ARS Research Leaders, and other USDA-ARS staff if there is a need for additional representation.   Additional ex-officio representation from the private sector and/or public sector will be determined as needed, but will require two-thirds vote of the TSG membership.  It is important that a well balanced group of companies (with respect to size and ability to contribute) be part of the TSG to adequately represent the GEM membership.  The 7 members from the private sector shall be represented as follows:  3 members representing the 3 largest companies and 4 members from companies other than the largest 3, based on annual seed corn sales. Annual seed sales shall be determined by accessible information such as Doane’s Reports, ASTA membership statistics, or other sources of available information pending approval by the TSG. It is recognized that an individual’s functions and responsibilities within his/her organization may change, and he/she may not be able to serve a full term.  In that case, it is expected that the individual, or his/her organization, will suggest an alternate to complete the term, with concurrence of the GEM TSG.  No company or public institution shall have more than one member on the TSG at any one time. Deviations from this requirement may be made, with concurrence of a simple majority of the TSG membership, as follows:1) in those circumstances whereby companies are combined into a single company or an individual TSG member moves to another company or institution, 2) where unique expertise in a discipline is sought that can be obtained only by adding a highly qualified individual from a company or institution that is already represented on the TSG, and 3) if a large company decides not to provide a member on the TSG, then a second member may be elected from one of the remaining 2 large companies.   


The officer of this organization shall be the Chair. The Chair, may be elected from either the public or the private sector TSG members.   

The length of term for each TSG member (other than the Chair) is 3 years with eligibility for a second term of 3 years.  The term of service for the Chair shall not be limited to two consecutive terms.  However, each term of renewal must be approved by the TSG and majority vote of the GEM Cooperators as stated under Article VI (Election Procedures).


CHAIR: Appoints all committees; is an ex-officio member of all committees; conducts TSG meetings; is responsible for planning the TSG agenda with the help of the GEM Coordinator; and Research Leaders; moves the meeting forward covering all agenda items; and ensures that all action items are addressed. The Chair may choose to delegate conducting specific sections of meetings to other TSG members with expertise in a particular topic. The Chair shall arrange the location of the TSG meetings and invite selected contributing guests to meetings for topics being addressed by the TSG.

The Chair also acts as a technical liaison between the TSG and National Program Staff; communicates TSG’s vision and needs to the USDA-ARS National Program Staff and to ARS line management.   The Chair may request support from other TSG members to help meet some of these duties.

Note Taker:  Prior to each meeting the Chair shall appoint a note taker to record the minutes.  The notetaker maintains electronic records of the assigned TSG meetings, annual cooperator meetings, correspondence, and other activities of the TSG.  Records all motions carried forward, opposed, or tabled for further discussion.  Copies of the minutes are sent to the GEM Coordinator, and distributed to TSG members after review by the Coordinator.  Permanent records are maintained by the GEM Coordinator.


New TSG members are elected by vote involving all GEM cooperators.  Candidates are nominated by a TSG nominating committee consisting of the Chair, and three TSG members (one public-sector, one large company and one additional type of company representative) who are appointed by the Chair.  TSG members who are candidates for re-election are not eligible to serve on the nominating committee.  The nominating committee is selected during the December TSG meeting 12 months prior to elections the following December at the annual GEM Cooperators meeting.  Candidates for re-election, as well as newly nominated candidates, for TSG membership must be approved by majority vote of all GEM Cooperators attending the Annual GEM Cooperators Meeting.  The GEM Cooperators will have the opportunity to nominate other candidates from the floor.  New TSG members shall assume their duties immediately after the election results are known.  Since the three largest companies have permanent TSG positions, new candidates are appointed by the respective companies and therefore not subject to election protocols.

In the event that the Chair’s position shall become vacant, a search for a new Chair shall be initiated by members of the TSG (and additional search team members as needed).  Candidates are selected by a nominating committee consisting of the current Chair (or an acting Chair if the current Chair is not/or will not be available), and three current TSG members appointed by the Chair. The Chair is selected by two-thirds vote of the TSG membership to be held at the annual TSG meeting (normally in December in Chicago).  A quorum of the TSG must be present at the annual meeting to initiate the voting process.  If a quorum is not met at the annual meeting, the voting process may take place electronically with final results announced no later than 30 days after the annual meeting date.  If the voting can be accomplished at the annual meeting, announcement of new officers to the GEM membership shall take place at the annual Cooperator Meeting.


A quorum shall consist of at least two-thirds of the TSG membership. 


TSG meetings shall be held twice per year and shall be announced by the Chair.  The annual meeting in December shall be held at the same time and location as the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) Corn and Sorghum Seed Research Conference.  The annual GEM Cooperator’s meeting shall take place within the same week of the TSG meeting at the same location.   The time and place of the second TSG meeting shall be discussed and determined during the December TSG meeting with a final announcement made by the Chair no later than January 31.

Attendance at TSG meetings is for TSG members, ex-officio members, and invited special guests.  From time to time, invitations to guest attendees are extended to individuals with expertise in topics under consideration by the TSG.  Other USDA-ARS personnel such as the National Program staff, are invited to attend the TSG meetings.   Invitations to non-TSG members must be approved and made by the Chair, or by an individual he/she authorizes.  

The Annual GEM Cooperators Meeting is open to all GEM member participants and non-GEM members.


Any article of these Bylaws can be amended by two-thirds vote of the TSG members present providing a quorum is present and a notice of the proposed amendment was provided to the members at least two weeks prior to the voting time.  In the event that voting takes place other than during the annual meeting, members will be asked to vote by e-mail within 14 days after receiving the amendments to be voted upon.


All questions of parliamentary law shall be governed by Robert's Rules of Order, Revised Edition.


Structure of the GEM Project:

The overall goal of the GEM Project is to broaden the US maize germplasm base, improve food and economic security, and enhance product value and its applications for food, feed, nutrition, bio-energy and industrial applications, and to contribute to the sustainability of agriculture. The GEM Project is administered through the USDA-ARS Plant Introduction Unit in Ames, IA and the USDA-ARS Plant Science Research Unit in Raleigh, NC.  The functional organization of GEM consists of three components: GEM Cooperators, a GEM Coordinator (USDA-ARS), and a Technical Steering Group (TSG).  GEM Cooperators are from the private and public sectors.  Private Cooperators are committed to assist the project by providing in kind support such as nurseries, isolation blocks, yield trials, as well as pathology, entomology, and laboratory support.  Private Cooperators with breeding programs also provide access to their proprietary germplasm by making crosses to exotic accessions and sharing the resulting breeding crosses to the GEM Coordinator, who in turn makes the germplasm available to the Cooperators.  GEM’s objectives are further supported by Public Cooperators who conduct research on exotic germplasm such as new breeding methods, trait development, and other technologies to enhance knowledge.  Public Cooperators are sometimes funded to conduct specific research projects through Specific Cooperator Agreements (SCA). The GEM Coordinator acts as the Authorized Departmental Officers’s Designated Representative (ADODR) for administration of SCA’s.  A major objective of the GEM Coordinator is to coordinate the project which includes assignment of in kind support, germplasm maintenance and distribution, data collection, summarization, and information sharing.  The Coordinator also conducts a breeding and testing program from Ames, and collaborates closely with the southeastern program in Raleigh for germplasm exchange, evaluation, and information sharing.  An Annual Report is made to the TSG at the December meeting in Chicago.   

Mission of the GEM Project:

The mission of the GEM (Germplasm Enhancement of Maize) Project is to effectively increase the diversity of U.S. maize germplasm utilized by producers, global end-users and consumers. The mission will be achieved through a collaborative effort between USDA-ARS, public, and private research scientists by utilizing exotic, public, and proprietary maize germplasm.  The resulting germplasm, derived via the incorporation of favorable alleles for prioritized traits from exotic sources, will be utilized in private and public breeding programs and will ultimately increase the diversity of corn hybrids, improve performance, and provide new and better products.  In addition, the GEM project will provide opportunities for the training of plant scientists in the enhancement and utilization of un-adapted germplasm.  This contributes to the global sustainability of agricultural production, economic stability and the nutrition and well being of society.

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