PRAIRIE CITY, Iowa -- A group of farmers from Iowa, Illinois and North Dakota gathered Friday, Sept. 25, to meet with nearly 20 participants from Latin America and Central America attending the U.S. Grains Council's International Biotechnology Information Conference.

As the IBIC participants return to their home countries to continue the work with their respective regulatory agencies, the Council is optimistic their experiences in the United States will be a positive influence on future trade.

Gary Schmalshof, Illinois farmer and USGC Biotechnology Advisory Team leader, said, "Through the events this week, the Council was able to show, in person, how U.S. farmers are working efficiently to produce a safe, reliable crop to meet the world's demands. Building relationships with the regulators builds their trust in U.S. producers. Council programs like this are what opens markets."

Gordon Wassenaar, Iowa corn farmer and USGC Biotechnology Advisory Team member, hosted the group at his Prairie City farm where 80 percent of his 750 acres of corn are of a biotech variety.

"U.S. farmers are engaged in one of the most exciting industries," he said. "I believe in research and believe we must continue to advance our technology. I've grown biotech crops for a number of years. There will be a lot more people that will need to be fed in the future and biotechnology is one of the tools we have in our toolbox to help."

The regulators participating in the conference heard presentations from U.S. researchers, regulators and agribusiness representatives during the week-long conference. But the visit to Wassenaar's operation brought together the messages received throughout the conference.

"I was able to see the precision and productivity in using biotech varieties firsthand. It was important to talk to the farmers directly to hear their experiences with the crops," said Julio Toledo, representing the National Institute for Agricultural Innovation, a part of the Ministry of Agriculture in Peru. "I now have key information to take back to our institute for review with my colleagues."