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International Visitors Learn About Biotech in Iowa

Growers lead fifth annual International Biotechnology Information Conference.

More than 70 visitors came to Iowa corn grower Gordon Wassenaar's Prairie City farm Thursday, where Wassenaar is hosting the fifth annual International Biotechnology Information Conference and conducting field demonstrations.

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) First Vice President Ron Litterer discussed biotechnology issues Wednesday with the attendees, and is joined by other Iowa corn growers - including U.S. Grains Council Biotech Advisory Team leader Darrel McAlexander - at the conference, in addition to international visitors.

The conference focuses largely on national and international regulations and agreements dealing with biotechnology. The Thursday meeting dealt with international agreements, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and its implementation in national biosafety frameworks; international and national approaches to food safety; and the impact and responses of modern biotechnology policy decisions on global food and feed supply chains.

The conference moved to an Omaha, Neb. meat-packing plant today.

"Part of the conference is to show the changes taking place in biotechnology in the United States," Litterer says. "There are new attendees every year, and it is important to continue the educational outreach that NCGA, our state associations and the U.S. Grains Council performs. Continued outreach on biotechnology will most likely lead to making our international customers more knowledgeable about the technology and the reasons why U.S. growers are utilizing it more and more."

Having attended the conference several other times, Litterer is optimistic about biotech trends. "People are starting to view biotechnology not as a barrier, but as a way to help increase production and raise the standard of living for all people," he said. "I think there's at least an appreciation for biotechnology that may not have existed before."

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