Ag Biotech Industry Stands Behind IRM Program
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Thursday, November 05, 2009) - The agricultural biotechnology industry maintains that the Insect Resistance Management (IRM) Plan has been one of the most successful industry stewardship programs implemented since pest-tolerant biotech crops were introduced more than a decade ago.
A report released today by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) alleges that farmer compliance with the insect-resistance management requirement has declined somewhat in recent years.
Guidelines for the Insect Resistance Management (IRM) Program require growers using certain varieties of biotech corn to plant a refuge of non-biotech corn. Insects from the refuge would be available to breed with others in the biotech crop field, helping prevent the emergence of resistance in insect populations over time.
“It’s important to note that the IRM program is working and there is no evidence of insect resistance developing,” says Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, Executive Vice President, Food and Agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “The fact is, the overwhelming majority of corn growers plant refuges. Clearly these farmers recognize the importance of Insect Resistance Management, but all of the requirements should be followed.”
Nick Storer, Global Science Policy Leader for Biotechnology for Dow AgroSciences, is chair of the Agriculture Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee (ABSTC), a coalition of biotech companies who are all Bt corn registrants. Storer says the ABSTC is committed to promoting IRM compliance.
“The ABSTC recognizes that compliance has declined somewhat in recent years due to multiple factors, and we have been proactively working to address this since 2007,” says Storer. “We are partnering with other stakeholder groups to deliver to corn farmers a re-invigorated education campaign. As an industry, we want to achieve the highest compliance levels possible.”
“When you look at the increasing number of farmers who have chosen to utilize biotechnology around the world (13.3 million in 2008 according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications), it’s obvious that biotech crops are delivering value in the form of plants that yield more per acre while employing more environmentally friendly farming practices,” says Bomer Lauritsen. “We are all invested in this continuing success and to making agricultural biotechnology available to all farmers who wish to use it.”
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BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.