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9-Misc: U.S. congressional & Ag leaders celebrate 10 years of biotechnology



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   "'I am proud to co-chair the Congressional Biotechnology Caucus,
     because I believe that through biotechnology we - as a nation and
     as a world will come closer to fulfilling the dream of Dr. Martin
     Luther King - that one day, everywhere, people will have three meals
     a day for their bodies...and dignity, equality and freedom,' said
     Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.)."
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------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Congressional & Ag Leaders Celebrate 10 Years of Biotechnology
SOURCE: American Farm Bureau
        http://www.fb.org/news/nr/nr2005/nr0922.html
DATE:   22 Sep 2005

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


Congressional & Ag Leaders Celebrate 10 Years of Biotechnology

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 22, 2005 - Congressional and agriculture
leaders gathered today to mark the 10th year of commercial biotechnology
in the U.S. Also of significance, this year farmers will plant and
harvest the 1 billionth acre of biotech crops globally. At a press event
on Capitol Hill, co-chairs of the House Biotechnology Caucus and growers
from around the nation marked these important milestones.

"Agricultural biotechnology is one of the most promising developments in
modern science. For 10 years and a billion acres, farmers have embraced
this technology because it can help to provide answers to the problems of
world hunger, improve our environment and enhance farm productivity and
profitability," said Co-Chairman of the House Biotech Caucus and Chairman
of the House Committee on Agriculture Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

"Biotechnology has been an avenue to allow grain producers in my district
to remain efficient and competitive," said Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.). "I
look forward to working as a co-chair of the House Biotechnology Caucus
to develop policies to make U.S. biotech products more attractive in the
global economy."

Ensuring access to international markets for products of agricultural
biotechnology is crucial for future trade of U.S. farm and ranch products.

"I am proud to co-chair the Congressional Biotechnology Caucus, because I
believe that through biotechnology we - as a nation and as a world will
come closer to fulfilling the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King - that one
day, everywhere, people will have three meals a day for their
bodies...and dignity, equality and freedom," said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

"Advances in biotechnology have helped people all over the world by
increasing crop yields, lowering prices for consumers, and providing a
safe and nutritious food supply," said Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.). "With
10 years of proven successes through extensive scientific research here
in the U.S., it is time to devote more resources and attention to the
biotechnology industry. This is a smart investment that will strengthen
our economy and provide greater stability for our farm families."

In the United States, biotech crops generated $27.5 billion of gross
revenues for farmers in 2003-04.

"Glyphosate [used in common products like Roundup®] resistant varieties
now account for more than 80 percent of U.S. soybean production," said
Bob Metz, president of the American Soybean Association. "The advantages
of reduced herbicide and energy costs, higher yields, and improved
environmental stewardship have been clearly demonstrated over the past
decade."

Reducing pesticide use in agriculture helps conserve water and fuel since
less energy and water are used to manufacture, distribute and apply
pesticide products. In addition to reducing the overall number of
pesticide applications, biotech crops have allowed farmers to substitute
herbicides with more favorable environmental characteristics that help
reduce environmental impact.

"New biotech plant varieties are currently in development to produce
crops high in essential vitamins and minerals, as well as crops with
higher conversion rates for renewable fuels, like ethanol. In the future
we will also see salt, cold and drought-tolerant plants," said South
Carolina Farm Bureau President David Winkles, a corn, cotton and soybean
producer, who represented the American Farm Bureau Federation at the
event. "Adoption of technologies, like biotech, has made American farmers
the most efficient producers in the world."

For instance, according to a 2002 National Cotton Council report, 80
percent of cotton growers are making fewer tillage passes and 75 percent
are leaving more crop residue due to herbicide tolerant cotton.

"Today, more than 80 percent of cotton bales harvested in the U.S. are
from varieties with one or more biotechnology traits," said Roy Baxley,
South Carolina state chair of the American Cotton Producers. "While there
are clear benefits for farmers in the U.S., farmers in developing
countries can also benefit from this technology. For the world's growing
population to be fed with nutritious foods and clothed with natural
performance fibers, we will depend on biotechnology's ever growing benefits."

"Our farmers support efforts through modern biotechnology to increase the
marketability of agriculture products to address environmental concerns
and to increase farm income and yield by decreasing input costs and
improving product quality," said Jon Doggett, vice president of the
National Corn Growers Association. "U.S. farmers are adopting
biotechnology because they recognize in it the safety, benefits and
potential."

Other advantages of biotech crops include their use in the development of
new medicines, with the potential to treat more than 200 human diseases.

-30-

Contacts:
Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 406-3642
tracyg@fb.org

Marjory Walker
National Cotton Council
901-274-9030
mwalker@cotton.org


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