The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture held its first hearing of the new 112th Congress on Thursday and continued its tradition of tackling difficult issues by addressing the complex issues plaguing biotechnology and USDA-APHIS’ role in regulating it.
Biotechnology in agriculture has been rapidly adopted by farmers throughout the world as the industry addresses how to feed a growing world population with limited resources. In fact the 2009 report, The Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops continues to show that global adoption of agricultural biotechnology continues to increase with a record 14 million farmers in 25 countries around the world planting biotech crops on 330 million acres last year, up from 13.3 million farmers and 308 million acres in 2008. The U.S. accounted for 158 million acres of the total, or 48% of the world’s biotech crop plantings.
Two Decades of Progress
Over the past two decades advances in biotechnology have resulted in improved yields, reduced amounts of both fertilizer and water needed for production and new plant varieties that are resistant to both pests and drought. Without question biotechnology will play a critical role in achieving future U.S. policy objectives that balances the food demand of a continually growing world population, alternative energy demands and protects natural resources.
Simultaneously the agriculture industry has witnessed growth in demand for organically-produced food and fiber. According to the Organic Trade Association, total U.S. organic sales, including food and non-food products, were $26.6 billion in 2009, up 5.3 percent from 2008. Certified organic acreage in the United States reached more than 4.8 million acres in 2008, according to updated data posted by USDA. Acreage managed organically in 2008 in the world totaled 86.5 million acres farmed by almost 1.4 million producers in 154 countries.
Meeting Consumer Needs
In his opening statement to the House Agriculture Committee, Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said, “The growth of all these sectors is great for U.S. agriculture. It means farmers, ranchers and growers have a range of ways to meet consumer needs and preferences both here and around the world. It means they can grow their operations in the way best for their operation while contributing to the success and vitality of rural America.”
See upcoming Part 2 in the next few days…
At Cansler Consulting, we are monitoring multiple issues in government that impacts all types of businesses and organizations.