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Consumer Support Is Within Reach in Race for Better Food Supply

May 5, 2010
BIO is in Chicago for the 2010 BIO International Convention.  Visit this space for updates direct from our food and ag sessions.

By Randy Krotz

Producing a better and more abundant food supply is nothing new to the agricultural biotech industry. For more than a decade, producers around the globe have increasingly put the powerful first generation biotech traits to work in major row crops.  These traits have provided insect protection and herbicide tolerance to plants and consistently increased production per acre. Even more recently, the industry has focused on stacking multiple traits within one crop, allowing corn growers, for instance, to protect the plant from both soil and foliar pest while providing herbicide tolerance.

“Tremendous progress is now being made in the development and advancement of biotech traits that will directly impact the consumer,” stated Neal Gutterson, president and CEO of Mendel Biotechnology.  Mr. Gutterson was speaking and leading a conversation on New Technologies at the 2010 BIO Conference in Chicago. It is obvious that much of the progress that is currently taking place is due to the significant number of collaborations and partnerships which now exist. These ventures will ultimately be responsible for advancing significant consumer-oriented traits or enhancements in a broader spectrum of food crops.

Healthier oils, improved taste and of course continuing to deal with complex traits like reducing crop stress, increasing yield and disease resistance are opportunities that now lie directly before biotech researchers and development teams. Challenges have always existed, but these hurdles are being addressed with even more precise bioengineering tools that aid and speed the development process. Consumer opinion, and ultimately belief, that biotech science is bringing forward a safer and healthier food supply is a goal that is clearly in reach.

The extensive research and regulatory pathways for these new food traits inherently make this a costly process for companies.  The investment necessary can actually eliminate some organizations from being able to advance the technology at all, but changes in the process of development being advanced by several organizations could modify the regulatory timeline and thus reduce overall costs.

Randy Krotz has 25 years experience in agricultural and biotechnology related marketing and communications. He has served as Director of Public Relations at Monsanto and the National Corn Growers Association. He is currently Senior Vice President at v-Fluence Interactive and can be reached at