Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation, issued the following statement about biotechnology and coexistence.
“The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the Agriculture Department’s decision to move forward with an important recommendation about biotechnology and coexistence. That recommendation, from the final report of the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology & 21st Century Agriculture (AC21), is to foster communication and collaboration to strengthen coexistence among farmers. We are disappointed by the implication from activist groups opposed to modern farming practices that there is widespread disagreement when it comes to coexistence and agricultural biotechnology. Frankly, that assertion does not hold up to scrutiny.
“AFBF has been an active participant in the constructive dialogue undertaken through the AC21 process. The fact of the matter is that for decades now, a hallmark of U.S. agriculture has been the ability of farmers to pursue innovation, utilize diverse cropping systems and respond to consumer demand for high-value, identity-preserved and specialty crops. Contrary to the claims by some who have a stake in muddying the waters with overblown charges, the diversity and vitality of our industry would not be possible if not for the past success of coexistence, or as we practice it, just being a good neighbor.
“While the U.S. regulatory framework is based on a scientific evaluation of safety and risk, the emergence of premium markets for crops that exclude the use of approved biotechnology as a method of production are purely market-driven. One fundamental principle has applied throughout the history of diverse cropping systems -- the farmer who derives value from a premium, differentiated crop accepts responsibility for implementing the production practices necessary to preserve the value of that crop. In all examples of identity-preserved crop production, the additional costs of production and the costs associated with accepting additional risk are offset by higher prices.
“The idea that there is a ‘war in the countryside’ is not borne out by the personal experience of the vast majority of American farmers or the evidence presented at the meetings of the AC21 committee. Although GMO opponents talk about a deluge of legal disputes between farmers for unintentional gene flow, the AC21 report didn’t identify or find evidence of significant legal disputes among farmers related to coexistence or cases of farmers being threatened legally for unintentional gene flow. Any purported ‘war’ in agriculture does not reflect facts and is merely the product of an activist agenda that does not reflect the best interest of farmers or American agriculture.”