The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has long been a proponent of keeping biotechnology as a viable option to the nation's farmers by promoting the benefits of the technology, benefits that include millions of dollars in savings to producers and the prevention of millions of pounds of pesticide being used.
Confirming NCGA's stance on biotech is Leonard Gianessi's study, “Plant Biotechnology: Current and Potential Impact For Improving Pest Management In U.S. Agriculture: An Analysis of 40 Case Studies.” Gianessi, a senior research associate for the National Center for Food & Agricultural Policy (NCFAP), spoke at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis on this issue.
“This study explains the vast impact biotechnology is having and the future potential for our food production system,” he said.
“For example, using biotech corn would save 14 million pounds of insecticide from being used and would greatly aid in the efficiency of farm operation.
“Overall, the use of biotech crops would increase farm income by $2.5 billion, produce 14 billion pounds of food and fiber, and would prevent 163 million pounds of pesticide from being used.”
NCGA Director of Development Tom Slunecka, said the study should open the eyes of those who doubt the effectiveness of biotech. “It's staggering to hear of the amazing benefits biotechnology can provide to both U.S. and world agriculture.”
During the question-and-answer portion of the discussion, Gianessi fielded several questions on the European Union's (EU) hesitancy to use biotech crops. Slunecka, who had spent the previous week in France as part of an NCGA/U.S. Grains Council trip to the World Corn Congress conference, said part of the problem is consumer acceptance.
“I think the issue is a lack of understanding on their part of what the benefits are,” he said. “In the wake of the recent food scares in the EU, such as mad cow disease and hoof-and-mouth disease, it will take time and a lot of effort to shed light on the true benefits that biotech could bring to European agriculture and food industries.”
Gianessi said another issue standing in the way of worldwide biotech acceptance is various activist groups.
“Food companies are afraid that if they actively sell biotech products, they will have (activist groups) protesting at their front door. Americans need to take a stand and say enough's enough, and continue to educate the world on the benefits of biotech and stand up to these activists.”
NCGA, as a charter member of the Agricultural Commodity Coalition (ACC), sees the benefit of studies such as Gianessi's in getting the word out on the effectiveness of biotech and was recently involved in a dialogue held in Great Britain where they presented a report that compiled all the latest studies and position statements from various scientific and agriculture-based groups.
“Efforts such as our partnerships with ACC and NCFAP,” said Slunecka, “are extremely cost-effective ways in which NCGA utilizes grower funding to protect and promote their markets as well as moving the acceptance of biotech forward on a global basis.”
To see a copy of the full NCFAP report and for more information on the ACC, visit the Biotechnology portion of the “Of Special Interest” section at www.ncga.com.