Grain News


U.S. Soybean Export Council To Sponsor International Biotechnology Symposium

Date Posted: June 13, 2013

Bloomington, IL—The United States is one of the world's top soybean producers.

The U.S. exports approximately 50 million metric tons -- or 1.4 billion bushels equivalent -- annually, which is close to 60 percent of total production.

That helps keep soybean prices strong and contributes to a positive U.S. agricultural trade balance.

Much of that export success is due to efforts by the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and other U.S. soybean stakeholders who work to build a preference for U.S. soy while fostering relationships with countries like China, Mexico and Japan ¬– three of the U.S. top importers. Such efforts include addressing market access issues like biotechnology.

USSEC will help sponsor the International Biotechnology Symposium hosted by the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) in Champaign, Ill. on Aug. 26.

Jim Sutter, USSEC chief executive officer, says use of biotech crops has helped boost U.S. production while delivering other benefits. The organization is concerned a lack of synchronization of regulatory and trade approvals for biotech seed throughout the world will constrain trade and threaten food security.

"Biotechnology allows us to produce crops in a more sustainable manner," he says. "We can see herbicide resistance, pest resistance and other traits that make the crop easier to grow.

"Other traits in the works, such as high-oleic soybeans, are lower in saturated fats and therefore healthier. Biotechnology enables us to get those traits into crops much faster, and allows us to better feed the world with less intensive farming practices – which is what sustainability really is all about."

Sutter says with dozens of new biotech seed events under development around the world, great potential exists for improved production practices for farmers and healthier food products for consumers. However, gridlock in the system prevents new seed event approvals.

"There are lingering concerns about the safety of biotech," Sutter says. "We need to continue to work together worldwide to communicate that sound science ensures the safety of biotechnology.

"Biotech products are a regular part of most people's lives – and are contained in everything from drugs to high-value food additives. For some reason when it comes to their use in agriculture, some people like to create skepticism and uncertainty.

"Unfortunately this can disadvantage those who can least afford it – the hungriest people of the world."

The International Biotechnology Symposium is a means to foster discussion about ways to streamline regulatory and trade approvals for farmer use of biotech seed and the worldwide trade of soybeans, corn and other crops grown with biotechnology.

ISA invites leaders in agriculture, food and trade from major grain importing and exporting countries to begin work on a solution. The symposium takes place the day before the 2013 Farm Progress Show in nearby Decatur, Ill.

Those interested in attending can register at www.biotechnologysymposium.com.

In addition to USSEC, other sponsors include Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences, Penton/Farm Progress, WinField, Bayer CropScience, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Nebraska Soybean Board and Ohio Soybean Council.

ISA welcomes additional sponsors.

Interested organizations can receive information by contacting Craig Ratajczyk, ISA CEO, at 309-663-7692 or craigr@ilsoy.org.

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