National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Ron Litterer discussed biotechnology issues Wednesday with international visitors at the fifth annual International Biotechnology Information Conference under way in Iowa.

Litterer and other Iowa corn growers, including NCGA Research and Business Development Action Team Chairwoman Pam Johnson and U.S Grains Council Biotech Advisory Team leader Darrel McAlexander, joined more than 70 visitors at Iowa corn grower Gordon Wassenaar's Prairie City farm, where Wassenaar has hosted the conference and conducted field demonstrations. Wassenaar, who is also a member of the NCGA Biotech Working Group, has hosted the field demonstrations.

Litterer said the event-sponsored by NCGA, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, the Nebraska Corn Board and the U.S. Grains Council-is one that allows U.S. farmers to meet with decision-makers from across the globe who monitor biotech issues.

"Part of the conference is to show the changes taking place in biotechnology in the United States," Litterer said. "There are new attendees every year, and it is important to continue the educational outreach that NCGA, our state associations and the U.S. Grains Council performs. Continued outreach on biotechnology will most likely lead to making our international customers more knowledgeable about the technology and the reasons why U.S. growers are utilizing it more and more."

The conference focuses on international agreements and national safety regulations that apply to modern biotechnology. Today's agenda includes international agreements relevant to modern biotechnology; the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and its implementation in national biosafety frameworks; international and national approaches to food safety; and the impact and responses of modern biotechnology policy decisions on global food & feed supply chains.

In addition, participants gain insight into the agricultural commodity chain in Iowa and Nebraska while also learning the practice of risk assessment, risk management, risk communication and decision making.

Litterer has attended the conference a couple times and says he is noticing a difference in the way people talk about biotechnology.

"People are starting to view biotechnology not as a barrier, but as a way to help increase production and raise the standard of living for all people," he said. "I think there's at least an appreciation for biotechnology that may not have existed before."

Today (Friday), the conference moves to Omaha, where visitors will tour a meat-packing plant.

SOURCE: NCGA news release.