The New York Biotechnology Association recently held its annual meeting, which featured several interesting sessions that focused on the future of ag biotech.
One workshop, entitled “Agriculture and Biotechnology: The Future of Food, Fiber and Fuel” focused on in the ability of biotechnology to meet the world’s demands for energy, food and feedstuffs. The session was led by Rick Zimmerman of ZGA, LLC and featured Cornell University’s Dr. Margaret Smith and Dr. Larry Walker.
The second workshop on ag biotech was entitled “Legal and Ethical Challenges to Genetic Engineering and Their Implications to World Societies”. Cornell University professor Dr. Larry Walker participated in a discussion with two lawyers well-versed in this field. Dr. Walker brought a practical perspective to the discussion and was able to provide realistic examples of challenges facing the biotech industry.
The New York Biotechnology Association is a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to the development and growth of New York State based biotechnology related industries and institutions, and to strengthening the competitiveness of New York State as a premier global location for biotechnology/biomedical research, education and industry.
Hawaii’s agricultural biotech industry is thriving. The state’s seed industry has grown at steady clip and is now valued at a record high of $146.3 million according to the Hawaii Ag Statistics Service. That’s an increase of 42% since 2006.
Hawaii’s ag biotech industry is represented by the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, a non-profit trade association founded in 1971 by Dr. James Brewbaker as an offshoot of the Corn Research Program at the University of Hawaii College of Agriculture.
HCIA member companies have farms and facilities on the islands of Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and Molokai and employ more than 1,800 workers. Although Hawaii is the leading producer of seed corn, the papaya crop is perhaps the best-known example of how ag biotech has truly flourished there.
Hawaii’s papaya industry was in the verge of extinction due to the papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) when USDA plant virologist Dr. Dennis Gonsalves and a team of biologists and horticulturalists began efforts to develop transgenic papaya that was resistant to PRSV. One PRSV-resistant line was discovered and farmers began planting the transgenic cultivar in 1999, effectively sparing the industry from disaster.
Since then, growers in Hawaii have been focusing on the role that their state can play in the global economy. “Food, agriculture and growth must be the fundamental and sustained objectives of our state,” said Hawaii Crop Improvement Association President Adolph Helm. “It’s very easy to say ‘no’ to genetically modified food when your stomach is full. It’s time for us to ‘grow locally and feed globally.’”
Helm also responded to ISAAA’s annual report on the global status of commercialized biotech crops, saying, “The report confirms that the research work being conducted by the seed industry in Hawaii is having a profound impact on agriculture worldwide. The increased demand for biotech crops is proof that the technology has become a vital tool for farmers in developing countries who struggle with poverty, malnutrition and resource-poor farmlands. ”
Also, check out the introduction to HCIA’s new video, “Seeds of Promise,” which shares how biotechnology is shaping Hawaii’s future, and features academics, researchers and state policymakers discussing the benefits of agricultural biotechnology.
Members of the Iowa ag community will gather in Des Moines February 9-10 for the Iowa Agribusiness Association’s annual Agribusiness Showcase and Conference. The event will include an “Ag Industry & Crop Management Conference” with seminars and workshops focusing the latest industry innovation and technology for crop production professionals, as well as the Agribusiness Association of Iowa Annual Meeting, an All Industry Reception and an awards banquet.
The Agribusiness Association of Iowa represents all facets of the agribusiness industry including feed, grain, plant food, crop protection products, equipment, seed and an array of allied industries. The Agribusiness Association of Iowa was formed in 1994, as the result of a merger between the Iowa Grain & Feed Association and the Iowa Fertilizer and Chemical Association.
For more information on the Agribusiness Showcase and Conference, click here or contact AAI at 1-800-383-1682. The event is free and open to the public.
The Maine Biotechnology Information Bureau was on hand for the standing-room only event that addressed issues including pesticide use, food production and the environment. “We have to increase production with lower environmental costs,” said keynote speaker Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. Click here to read MBIB’s recap of the event and to hear from farmers on both sides of the issue.
Jon Olson, Executive Secretary of the Maine Farm Bureau, also provided an interesting perspective in an op-ed published in the Kennebec Journal last week. He writes, “Farmers in Maine are fed up with the controversy and are quietly talking among themselves, looking for ways to move beyond the divide. Collaboration is replacing confrontation, for the benefit of all Maine farmers.”