ISGA Presents White Paper at Forum on Biotechnology and Global Soy Trade in China
- General News
The International Soy Growers Alliance (ISGA) released a new white paper at the day long Forum on Biotechnology and Global Soy Trade in Beijing on April 23. About 100 Chinese agriculture, state and industry representatives attended the forum.
On the ISGA’s second mission to China, grower leaders from the United States, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay met with Chinese governmental officials and influencers to discuss the economic implications of these delays for global producers and consumers of soy.
The white paper that was discussed at the forum and released to those in attendance is called “The Potential Economic Impacts of Delayed Biotech Innovation in Soybeans” and was developed in conjunction with ISGA members and written by researchers Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, Kenneth Zahringer and John Kruse at the University of Missouri.
The peer-reviewed white paper details the benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops for countries that accept them while also documenting the economic impact of delays in regulatory approval, showing that a three-year postponement in global approval of biotech-enhanced soybean traits any time in the next 10 years would cost farmers and consumers a total of nearly $19 billion, compared with typical approval timelines.
Farmers in large soy-exporting countries that quickly adopt new technology — the U.S., Brazil and Argentina — and consumers in large importing countries —China and the nations in the European Union — have the most to lose from delayed approvals, according to the white paper.
As an example of important biotech approvals that farmers might need in the near future, the study examined herbicide-tolerance traits and analyzed the effects of approval delays through 2025.
Regulatory delays have real and measurable costs for society. For example, when new biotech herbicide-tolerant varieties are not approved in a timely manner, farmers continue to incur increased weed-control costs, potential yield losses and reductions in acreage. Some farmers may see greatly increased production costs or be forced out of farming entirely. At the same time, higher prices and reduced supplies strain consumers.
USSEC chairman Laura Foell took part in the ISGA mission. “In 2014 we (ISGA) commissioned this white paper. We wanted something we could use to show people the economic impact of slow approvals. This is scientifically peer-reviewed and not just hearsay,” she said. “When we are visiting with industry representatives and government agencies it will bring to light the economic and cultural impact that slow approvals have.”
“We can’t allow non-scientific opinions to drive the day,” said American Soybean Association (ASA) chairman Wade Cowan. “We’re all in favor of a level playing field and we need to work together to let each market find its level. When you come together in a forum like this you can’t play country against country. The message doesn’t hold water anymore when we’re all in the same room.”
“Ultimately, you hope that any work done here will speed up the approval process,” Bob Haselwood, United Soybean Board (USB) chair added. “I think that the cooperation we have with our South American partners will make the Chinese officials stop and think that they are going to have to work with us as a group instead of individually and I think that is a good thing.”
“The economic benefits from the adoption of new soybean varieties will be large,” Lloyd Day, deputy director general of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) told the group while discussing the white paper. “If new traits are delayed in reaching the market they will not only impact farmers and seed developers, but also restrict consumer access to adequate nutrition.”
An issues brief was also developed to summarize this white paper. Ms. Foell, Mr. Cowan and Mr. Haselwood will be participating in the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB)’s annual Washington Watch from April 27-29. The event is held each spring in Washington, D.C and gives NAFB members the opportunity to hear from agriculture organizations, officials from the United States Department of Agriculture and leadership of the U.S. House and Senate.