The American Farm Bureau Federation is supporting USDA’s decision to move forward with a recommendation from the final report of the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and the 21st Century Agriculture regarding biotechnology and coexistence. The recommendation is to foster communication and collaboration to strengthen coexistence among farmers. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says a hallmark of U.S. agriculture for decades has been the ability of farmers to pursue innovation, utilize diverse cropping systems and respond to consumer demand for high-value, identity-preserved and specialty crops. Contrary to those who say there is widespread disagreement when it comes to coexistence and agricultural biotechnology – Stallman says the diversity and vitality of the industry wouldn’t be possible if not for the past success of coexistence or simply being a good neighbor.
While the U.S. regulatory framework is based on a scientific evaluation of safety and risk – Stallman says the emergence of premium markets for crops that exclude the use of approved biotechnology as a method of production are purely market-driven. He says one fundamental principle has applied throughout the history of diverse cropping systems – the farmer who derives value from a premium, differentiated crop accepts responsibility for implementing the production practices necessary to preserve the value of that crop. In all examples of identity-preserved crop production – he says the additional costs of production and the costs associated with accepting additional risk are offset by higher prices. Stallman says the AC21 report didn’t identify or find evidence of significant legal disputes among farmers related to coexistence or cases of farmers being threatened legally for unintentional gene flow. He says any purported war in agriculture doesn’t reflect facts and is merely the product of an activist agenda that doesn’t reflect the best interest of farmers or American agriculture.
ASA Says Current Coexistence Efforts are Working
American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser is urging USDA to take a practical and scientific approach to enhancing agricultural coexistence. In comments submitted to USDA this week – the Iowa farmer also urged USDA to consider the already extensive work on coexistence underway in the industry. In Gaesser’s comments – ASA reinforced its position that there’s no real evidence current efforts to achieve coexistence between neighboring producers aren’t working. The comments also pointed to the failure of the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and the 21st Century Agriculture to identify any data that shows contamination between IP, conventional and organic farming has occurred or is a significant problem warranting additional steps beyond enhanced communication and education. Gaesser said farmers of many kinds of different cropping systems have a long and successful history of coexistence. He noted some farmers grow crops for high-quality seed production, some grow specialty varieties within conventional crops, some grow ornamentals or vegetables and others grow non-GMO and organic crops. Gaesser said all require that the grower hoping to raise one of these premium crops take prudent management steps and communicate with neighbors. He said ASA has seen no data to suggest that such management and communication isn’t working.
Source: NAFB News Service