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President Obama Endorses Ag Biotech

April 17, 2014
In an April 11 letter to Julie Borlaug, President Obama wrote about how pleased he was to join in the celebration of her grandfather, Norman Borlaug, and his life and passion for feeding the hungry through biotechnology. Through ag biotech, Norman Borlaug, known as the “Father of the Green Revolution,” made it his life’s work to eradicate world hunger and was recently recognized posthumously for his contributions to the field. Sara Wyant of Agri-Pulse highlighted President’s Obama’s remarks to Julie Borlaug:
“I share his belief that investment in enhanced biotechnology is an essential component of the solution to some of our planet's most pressing agricultural problems,” Obama wrote. “Through our new regional climate change hubs, we will use the sorts of technologies pioneered by your grandfather to help farmers and ranchers face the climate challenges ahead.”

Borlaug's granddaughter Julie, who now serves as assistant director for external relations at the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, is clearly delighted with the letter, wrote Wyant.
“This is a huge endorsement of the importance of agriculture research and biotechnology,” she told Agri-Pulse. “My grandfather would have been grateful and appreciative of the President's focus on agriculture and climate change in an effort to feed the 9 billion people expected to live on this planet by 2050.”

Obama supporters say that a stronger White House message on biotechnology has been quietly building in recent years and the letter to Julie Borlaug represents a culmination of several different events.

For example, starting with the G8 Camp David declaration in May 2012, world leaders committed to launch a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture, “to take to scale new technologies and other innovations that can increase sustainable agricultural productivity, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities.”

In February 2013, Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union; Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation; James Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO, and representatives of Agrivida, BASF, Bayer, DowAgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta, met with White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett to discuss what they saw as the need for more White House leadership on the use of biotechnology in agriculture.

In the fall of 2013, the use of biotechnology in the global food system got another boost from a somewhat unlikely source: the Vatican.

However, what separates this letter from these events is that it is a clear endorsement that the White House is behind the science of agricultural biotechnology. Similar to the letter to Julie Borlaug, BIO encourages future validations for this much needed technology from the President and his administration.

Read Sara Wyant’s, Agri-Pulse, piece “President Obama provides clear endorsement of agricultural biotechnology” here. Additionally, read here Jim Greenwood's, president and CEO of BIO, remarks on the letter from President Obama to Julie Borlaug.