USSEC Sponsors Inaugural D.C. Biotechnology Roundtable Touting Benefits of Ag Biotech
- General News
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) teamed up to present the first-ever D.C. Biotechnology Roundtable on August 13 in Washington, D.C. Discussion at the event focused on the acceleration of government approval of biotech seed for soybeans and other crops.
ASA Illinois Director Ron Moore and CEO Steve Censky, along with President Ray Gaesser of Corning, Iowa spoke with more than 100 farmers, researchers, leaders of agricultural organizations and federal officials about the worldwide benefits of agricultural biotechnology.
Mr. Moore participated in a three-farmer panel on on-farm biotech use for soybeans, wheat and corn. The panel also included representatives from the National Corn Growers Association and the National Association of Wheat Growers.
Mr. Censky joined Michael Hawkins of the Embassy of Canada in Washington to discuss the approach to biotechnology issues from like-minded countries including the U.S. and Canada, and stressed the strong cooperation of our two countries in this effort.
In addition, Ambassador Darci Vetter, chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative delivered the keynote address, and other regulatory speakers included USSEC CEO Jim Sutter; EPA’s Dan Kenny; USDA-APHIS’ Michael Firko, U. S. Department of Agriculture; and Jack Bobo, U.S. Department of State. Additional speakers included David Zilberman, University of California-Berkeley, MAIZALL’s Floyd Gaibler and Gary Martin of the North American Grain Exporters Association. Mr. Firko talked about the progress the USDA is making in clearing the backlog of approval of new biotechnology designed to help crops withstand pests, disease and harsh climate and to use crop nutrients more efficiently.
Mr. Zilberman said that approvals for new biotechnology traits for soybean seed can take 10-15 years, pushing costs as high as $160 million to commercialize new biotechnology.
Robert Paarlberg, renowned author and advisor to numerous food and agricultural organizations worldwide, reiterated the proven safety of biotechnology. A professor of political science at Wellesley College and public policy at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Mr. Paarlberg observed that opposition to biotechnology comes from environmental and anti-globalization groups in more affluent countries, particularly the European Union. He said the current state of worldwide regulation deprives people of food by preventing the use of biotechnology by farmers in poorer countries who are growing food crops such as wheat, rice and potatoes, and making the technology available only to farmers in affluent countries, such as the United States, who raise biotech crops, such as soybeans and corn for livestock feed.
While hosted by ISA and ASA, the meeting was sponsored by USSEC; DuPont Pioneer; Monsanto; the New York Corn & Soybean Association; FLM+; Indiana Soybean Alliance; National Association of Wheat Growers; Indiana Corn Marketing Council; National Corn Growers Association; Dow AgroSciences; and the Ohio Soybean Council.