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Farmers impacted by biotech access

From decreasing input costs to increasing on-farm sustainability, biotechnology is an important part of many farming operations across the country. Biotechnology provides another tool in the toolbox to help farmers meet the needs of the future sustainably.

There is no question biotechnology gives farmers additional profit opportunities, but any delays in the biotech approval process will also have an economic impact, according to the United Soybean Board (USB).

“Biotechnology allows U.S. farmers to evolve to meet changing end-user needs sustainably and these new technologies require a rigorous approval process to insure they are safe,” said Keith Kemp, USB farmer-leader from West Manchester, Ohio. “As both a farmer and consumer, I am dedicated to making our food more sustainable and with the regulatory process taking eight to 10 years to get an approval of new technology, it is a very lengthy and costly process for the American farmer.”

One of the most frustrating approval processes as of late has been for high-oleic soybean varieties. This biotechnology produces oil with increased functionality that has benefits for food and industrial users and could increase the value of all U.S. soybeans. But one of the U.S. major trading partners is hindering the process.

“We do not want to put anything in the export chain that messes up trade with any foreign countries,” Kemp said. “We scale up and then scale back and it is a very difficult situation for farmers to deal with but we just have to have some patience and wait for the approval process to play out.”

Biotechnology made headlines over the 2017 growing season as farmers began noticing the ill effects of dicamba drift damage across the country, making many wonder if farmers are ready to handle new technology coming down the pipeline.

“All of U.S. farmers want to be good stewards of the technology that will benefit our operation, but that doesn’t mean technology won’t give us some challenges,” Kemp said. “It also doesn’t mean we should give up on something if we hit a speed bump. We are committed to working with industry partners to make biotech work. We will learn from what went wrong with dicamba, improve upon it and have it as a tool down the road.”

The majority of the soybeans grown in the United States are from seeds that have been enhanced through biotechnology. And this science has allowed U.S. soybean farmers to grow more crops on fewer acres using fewer resources. The need to understand biotech’s positive impact on agriculture has never been more important, so, Kemp said, it’s smart for U.S. soybean farmers to stay up-to-date on this critical topic.

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