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Iowa Farmers Call for Cooperation in Biotech Trade Issues at Global Agribusiness Forum

August 24, 2016

Iowa Corn farmer-leaders Pam Johnson and Julius Schaaf traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil last month to represent MAIZALL, the international maize alliance, at the 2016 Global Agribusiness Forum. MAIZALL is a coalition of corn growers from the United States, MAIZAR in Argentina and ABRAMILHO in Brazil who work together on challenges of mutual interest including innovation and food security, even while they compete in the global marketplace. Johnson who served as president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and Schaaf, past chair of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) spoke at the biennial conference calling on the global agricultural industry and exporting countries’ governments to work with a spirit of collaboration to solve the challenges pledging the advancement and adoption of new production technologies. Both serve as officers on the MAIZALL board.

Giving the opening address, Johnson’s remarks centered around the need for cooperation among farmers in having access to a range of tools needed to ensure a continued supply of safe, affordable and sustainably-produced food supply. “Addressing influential group global leaders at the forefront of global market access issues for biotech crops was powerful,” said Johnson. “MAIZALL works to give U.S. corn farmers that front row access in meeting the global food challenges of our day. With the global population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, farmers in North and South America must understand the need to increase agricultural productivity to meet the unprecedented demand for food and feed. Food security continues to be a priority with more than 800 million people still not having enough food to eat. We know that we are still not where we need to be on basic nutrition … even before we factor in growth.  And all of us today must understand that increased trade remains essential to closing the gap.”

Schaaf joined a panel focused on the challenge of sustainable production. He emphasized the need for science-based regulations that allow farmers to access the technology. “Meeting this increased global food demand must be accomplished sustainably using less land, energy and water and mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said Schaaf. “In order to accomplish such a task, farmers will need access to agricultural biotechnology. However, regulatory gridlock and lack of consumer understanding of agricultural technologies restrict farmers’ ability to capture the benefits of innovation.”

Earlier this year, MAIZALL set key priorities for the organization. These include:

  • Continuing engagement with government and industry leaders in China to create an open dialogue about the importance of trade and innovation to Chinese food security objectives;

  • Continuing to monitor the performance of the European Commission on issuing approvals to determine if MAIZALL needs to re-engage in that region; and

  • Improving capacity to communicate to both the World Trade Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations the impacts that biotechnology regulations have on trade and, in turn, the ability of farmers to meet global demand.

Video of Pam Johnson’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_khyW8rGxQ

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The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) is an 8,000-member strong grassroots-driven organization, headquartered in Johnston, Iowa, serving members across the state, and lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its farmer members to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability. For more information, visit iowacorn.org.

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