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USDA Secretary Vilsack Addresses Attendees at Coexistence Workshop

March 13, 2015
On March 12 – 13, 2015 at North Carolina State University (NCSU), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) held a Stakeholder Workshop on Coexistence to advance an understanding of agricultural coexistence and discuss opportunities for making coexistence more achievable and a basic consideration for all stakeholders.  Coexistence is the concurrent cultivation of conventional, organic, identity preserved (IP), and genetically engineered (GE) crops consistent with farmer choices and consumer preferences.  To learn more on coexistence and its history, read BIO's Blog "Agricultural Coexistence: We All Can Get Along."

USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack  provided opening remarks at the Workshop. Jenny Hopkinson covered his remarks below: 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had stern words for producers of biotech, conventional and organic crops this morning, arguing that each group’s push-back against the other forms of production are hurting agriculture as a whole.

In the years since USDA released its Agricultural Coexistence in the 21st Century report, "the conversation about coexistence and choice seems to have back slid … into the bitter rhetoric about what is good and what is bad," Vilsack told participants of the USDA Coexistence Workshop.
"I don’t think we can continue to go done this path as a divided industry," Vilsack continued. "It's not sustainable and it's bad for business … coexistence and choice have to be more than buzz words. They have to be the only viable option and that’s why we have to move beyond this idea of one side winning and one side losing.”

The two-day workshop is intended to restart a discussion about how the entire agriculture industry and USDA can work together to promote the success of all production systems and figure out how to resolve problems between farmers, Vilsack said.

To see more remarks from Secretary Vilsack and other panelists follow BIO on Twitter at @IAmBiotech.