The American and Illinois Soybean Associations teamed up last week to gather more than 100 farmers, researchers, leaders of agricultural organizations and federal officials for a discussion on the worldwide benefits of agricultural biotechnology.
“It is critical that agriculture let policymakers and regulators in Washington know how much farmers need biotechnology to sustainably produce food for the world’s population. Scientists and regulatory agencies have established that agricultural biotechnology is safe for humans, animals and the environment. It is crucial science that helps farmers use fewer resources to produce more food,” said Illinois Soybean chairman and farmer Bill Raben.
Darci Vetter, chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative, delivered the keynote address. Other speakers included Dan Kenny with the Environmental Protection Agency, USDA Deputy Administrator for Biotechnology Regulatory Services Michael Firko, and Jack Bobo with the State Department. Additional speakers included David Zilberman, University of California-Berkeley; Jim Sutter, U.S. Soybean Export Council; MAIZALL’s Floyd Gaibler; and Gary Martin of the North American Grain Exporters Association.
Firko talked about the progress the agency 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. Zilberman noted 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.