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USTR Chief Ag Negotiator Keynotes #BIO2016 Food and Agriculture Track

June 8, 2016
On Tuesday, June 09, 2016, Ambassador Darci Vetter, Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative, kicked-off the #BIO2016 Food and Agriculture Track. She opened by stating that it is an exciting time to be in agriculture.

She argued for the importance of using the latest technologies to help feed a growing population of 9 billion by 2050, especially as we face such challenges as climate change.
"At each point of the food and agriculture value chain, technology can help improve fluidity by reducing inputs, lessening greenhouse gas emissions, and even create biobased alternatives."

Ambassador Vetter argued that trade policies can either amplify or stymie the growth of agriculture. She stated that we need to ensure policies that create a environment that advances the agriculture sector.

Ambassador Vetter mostly commented on the current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in her keynote. She stated that the TPP will provide new market access to every single agriculture product without exception. "This is particularity rare and will help many countries who aren't normally at the negotiation table."

Expanding trade opportunities means access to new commodity markets for the United States in such countries as Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
"TPP will expand the way we will do business in the Asia Pacific."

She stated that we "are making sure that TPP members are committing themselves to science-based decision making when considering policies."
"For the first time, we have specific language around agriculture biotechnology in the TPP! We will be able to remove tariffs and barriers while maintaining the highest standards."

She continued by reiterating that the potential for us to do business in Asia Pacific is vast. TPP will help the U.S. level the playing field in many commodity sectors.

Ambassador Vetter noted the lack of predictability and uncertainty in the acceptance of biotech in China. "This reluctance is a result of a few factors including consumer acceptance and the notion that China views food security as a country being able to sustain itself."
"We hope that if enough countries are following the rules of TPP, then China will recognize that it should do the same."

In conclusion, Ambassador Vetter argued that even if we get the government piece right in TPP, consumers must be able to recognize the value and trust the safety of ag biotech products. "Industry and government must work together to do a better job of helping the consumer understand the science and benefits of ag biotech."

View here Ambassador Vetter's Buzz Center Interview: