Dr. Cathleen Enright, BIO’s Executive Vice President for Food and Agriculture, recently presented at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2014 Annual Convention in San Antonio. On Sunday, January 13th, Dr. Enright briefed the group on issues and challenges confronting the agricultural biotechnology sector at her workshop titled, “Ensuring Our Access to Biotechnology.”
Christopher Doering of the Des Moines Register wrote a wonderful piece capturing the essence of her talk.
In his blog titled, Opposition to biotech crops slowing government approval, hurting farmers, Christopher Doering highlights Dr. Enright’s comments on the impacts that farmers face when regulatory decisions are based on political and emotional rather than scientific influences:
“…the growing number of groups working to ‘create fear and malign’ our companies, coupled with more state ballot initiatives seeking to require mandatory labeling, have been noticed by states, regulators and political leaders.
“‘This impact is hitting close to home for American agriculture,’ Enright told a supportive audience at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in San Antonio.
“Increasingly, it is taking longer for regulators to approve new biotech seeds. The United States, Enright said, has changed from being the fastest in terms of approval nearly 20 years ago to one of the slowest among major producing countries.
“What that means is access to biotech seeds by U.S. farmers is falling behind,” she said.”
According to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, the value of biotech crops is about $115 billion (2012). Additionally, GM technology in the United States alone has had a favorable impact on farm income of approximately $43 billion for the years 1996-2011.
Such scientifically reputable organizations as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations have all stated that “foods produced using biotechnology that are currently available are safe for people and our planet.”
And yet, attacks on the biotech industry and the technology persist. This groundless emotion continues to impact the regulatory approval process by causing needless delays in the approval of GM products.
“Despite opposition to biotech crops in Europe and other parts of the world concerned over their impact on human health and the environment, they have become a major player in the agriculture community since they were first introduced commercially in the United States in 1996 with the launch of Roundup Ready soybeans. Genetically modified crops are now grown in 30 countries by 17.3 million farmers on more than 420 million acres.”