Thursday morning the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development, Biotech, Specialty Crops and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing to review the opportunities and benefits of agricultural biotechnology. The subcommittee received testimony from Chuck Connor, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; Dr. Roger Beachy, president emeritus, Donald Danforth Plant Center, St. Louis, Mo.; and Dr. Calestous Juma, professor of the Practice of International Development, Harvard University.

“Farmers have rapidly adopted the new technology and have enjoyed more convenient and flexible crop management, lower cost of production, higher productivity and/or net returns per acre and numerous environmental benefits,” Connor stated in his testimony. “Biotechnology developments have reduced pesticide use, improved conservation practices and afforded a more sustainable way for farmers to provide us with food, feed and fiber.”

The academically focused hearing highlighted the benefits biotechnology provides the agricultural sector, including improved yields and reduced impact on natural resources. Each of the panelists stressed the need for a regulatory system based on sound science. Panelists also urged the subcommittee to consider how biotechnology can meet the future demands of a growing global population.

The subcommittee plans to hold a second hearing to examine the current regulatory system and the challenges imposed by litigation.