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EU Farmers Have High Hopes for Obama

April 13, 2009

Forbes ran a commentary April 2nd authored by Maria Gabriela Cruz, a Portuguese grower of biotech maize, urging Obama to help facilitate change in EU attitudes on biotech crops.

When Obama visited Europe recently – for the first time as president – he enjoyed high approval ratings among Europeans, especially in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia.

“What these supporters may not realize is that Obama is an advocate of agricultural biotechnology – a field of innovation that many in Europe have snubbed,” writes Cruz.

“Since the commercial introduction of biotech seeds more than a decade ago, farmers in Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere have planted more than 2 billion acres of genetically improved soybeans, corn (maize), canola and cotton. As a result, they've enjoyed significant yield increases, which are essential if we hope to feed a global population of 7 billion people.

“Genetically modified food is no longer the fruit of a cutting-edge technology. Instead, it's a proven form of agriculture. I've grown it on my farm for three years, though EU regulators place severe limits on my access to all of the opportunities that biotechnology has to offer.

“Those who oppose genetically modified crops are motivated by unfounded fears lacking in scientific understanding…But what if Barack Obama were to make a high-profile case for genetically modified crops? Then Europeans would certainly pay attention…if Obama only will use his popularity in Europe to promote a serious debate between credible scientists, farmers and environmentalists about the importance of biotech crops. Science is on his side, and so is everyone who grapples with the serious problem of feeding a hungry planet.”

Maria Gabriela Cruz is one of the scheduled speakers for the session, Ag Biotech – Improving Farmers Lives” at the 2009 BIO International Convention, May 18-21, 2009, in Atlanta. This session will explore the benefits of agricultural biotechnology from the farmer’s perspective. 

With the advent of biotech, millions of farmers around the world have experienced several expected – as well as some not-so-expected – benefits by using biotechnology on their farms. As the ag biotech industry continues to gain worldwide acceptance, understanding and exploring these benefits provides the complete story of the long term impact biotech has the opportunity to have on farms of all sizes.

This session will include a panel of growers from the Philippines, Portugal and the United States. It is scheduled for Wednesday, May 20, 8:00am-9:30am at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Many of the scheduled events are now posted on the BIO International Convention website.  Hosted by BIO, the global event for biotechnology will take place May 18-21, 2009, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga., and is expected to draw 20,000 industry leaders from around the world.

The convention program will feature more than 150 sessions in 21 breakout session tracks highlighting the latest information and the newest opportunities for executives, investors, scientists, policy leaders, and media from around the world. More than 1,000 speakers will share breakthroughs in medicine, diagnostics, the environment, energy production, food and agriculture and more.