Dr. Howard Minigh, president and chief executive officer of CropLife International, was one of the presenters at the 2014 Export Exchange in Seattle this week. The event is co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).
Speaking to nearly 500 attendees representing over 40 countries, Minigh talked about how biotechnology benefits farmers and consumers worldwide, and innovation in plant science is essential to meet the world’s rapidly growing demand for food. Biotechnology was a key topic at the Exchange in an effort to educate international buyers.
Since being commercially introduced in the mid-1990s, the economic benefits of plant biotechnology at the farm level have exceeded $117 billion, according to PG Economics. In 2013, 18 million farmers in 27 countries – more than 90 percent of them lower-income farmers in the developing world – planted biotech crops.
Despite the widespread adoption of this technology, it is controversial and, in some markets, unpredictable regulatory frameworks often influenced by political forces have created challenges to global trade. The timelines for approval in large importing countries are increasing, although this trend is not confined only to those who buy grain. Even the United States, which as recently as 2008 was a global leader in biotech approvals, now trails Canada, Brazil and Argentina on this measure.
Export Exchange participants also heard presentations on the global supply and demand situation, economic drivers affecting the global feed grains trade, and the latest developments in shipping, financing and the policy environment.