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Global agriculture depends on consistent biotech regulation
<p> An international group of biotechnology experts, regulators and farmers will meet Aug. 26, in Champaign, Ill., to tackle the issue of biotech regulation. The global nature of agriculture will require that countries work together to open doors to new-tech crops.</p>

Global biotech event headed for Illinois

Inconsistent global regulation of crop biotechnology could stifle trade. A symposium in August aims to address key regulatory issues.

The global biotech market is important to U.S. farmers who rely on those innovations to produce crops more efficiently than ever before. But in the global market the rules governing approval of the technology are complicated, convoluted and sometimes difficult to achieve. And that regulatory tangle could impact the future of U.S. farms. That challenge has driven creation of a special even slated Aug. 26 in Champaign, Ill.

The International Biotechnology Symposium is spearheaded by the Illinois Soybean Association and will take place the day before the Farm Progress Show, which starts Aug. 27 in Decatur, Ill. Bill Wykes, chairman, Illinois Soybean Association says: "We get a lot of international visitors to the Farm Progress Show and this meeting will be an important addition to their trip."

He explains that the global market lacks any kind of "synchronized science-based system for approving the new biotech traits." The panel presentations at the event are geared toward opening a dialog on ways to fine-tune the process and help speed the way for new biotech crops to enter the market.

Some readers may wonder why such an event would be started by an Illinois group? Wykes says that "somebody has to take the lead" to get the conversation going. "We export over half the soybeans we produce in Illinois. If we can be the organization that can bring this together and start the dialog going, that would be great."

He notes that in his international travels customers and producers in those countries see the same problems and issues. Wykes sees ways where countries can work together in an international setting.

The event is a "wonderful opportunity to get everybody in one room to discuss the global regulatory system," says Mindy Whittle, soybean industry affairs lead, Monsanto. "We're bringing together growers, trait providers, end users, people in the middle of the chain and growers outside the United States to talk about their perspective."

Adds Jeff Nawn, senior manager, biotechnology affairs and regulatory, DuPont Pioneer: "The U.S. ag economy depends on that foreign customer, which is a significant share of exports. They don't all approve biotech products the same way."

He offers an example of the challenges ahead noting that China is reviewing 19 different new biotech products for risk assessment and the country has taken no action on any of those traits since 2011. That limits "our ability to complete in-country trials, or to move products into global markets," Nawn says.

Learn more about the event by visiting

Note: Penton/Farm Progress, publishers if Farm Industry News is a media partner for this event.

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