MEDIA ALERT: Gianessi to Share Preliminary Results of New Agricultural Biotechnology Impact Study at BIO Press Conference

WHAT: A press conference sharing the preliminary results of a new National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP) study examining the economic impact of 30 individual crops improved through agricultural biotechnology. The study focuses largely on the potential impact of new crops, regions and applications.


Monday, June 25, 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: BIO 2001 International Convention and Exhibition San Diego Convention Center, Room 5B

WHO: Leonard Gianessi, Senior Research Associate, National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP)

WASHINGTON (June 21, 2001) - The benefits of agricultural biotechnology have been widely publicized over the past several years. However, this discussion has been limited typically to commodity crops such as soybeans, cotton and field corn in major growing regions like the Midwestern United States. Gianessi’‘s study, co-authored by Cressida S. Silvers, leads this conversation in a new direction - with an analysis of many novel crops, regions, and applications.

"We’‘ve established that biotechnology can deliver substantial benefits to traditional growers," said Gianessi. "This new study analyzes an extremely diverse array of crops - several of which are smaller in scale. And not just new crops, but new markets and applications that demonstrate the benefits of biotechnology for a broader audience."

Overall, the study encompasses 30 different crops - from corn and citrus to soybeans and strawberries. Although the final report, "The Potential for Biotechnology to Improve Crop Pest Management in the U.S.," will be released in September, Gianessi will showcase several crop impact profiles in the June 25 press conference. Many of these profiles focus on new crops, regions and applications:

New Crops

In many cases, biotechnology is offering solutions that could save a local industry and avoid a serious loss of markets to overseas competition. Texas citrus growers, for example, produce about 450,000 tons of citrus valued at $48 million per year. However, many of their groves are facing almost certain destruction by tristeza, a viral disease that has spread north from Central America. Through biotechnology, researchers have developed a citrus tree that resists tristeza infection. If growers replant with the new variety, which is being developed by Texas A&M University, the local industry may be able to survive the spread of the virus and maintain its market position.

New Regions

New York is not widely known as the soybean capital of the United States. But for the state’‘s soybean growers, the advent of transgenic soybeans has breathed new life into the market. Herbicide-tolerant soybeans have enabled New York growers to remain competitive in a tightening market, helping to ensure the viability of many family farms. In fact, soybean acreage doubled in New York following the introduction of herbicide-tolerant cultivars.

New Applications

For years, growers have experienced the benefits of biotech field corn that produces its own insect protection. This successful technology has been transferred to sweet corn for planting in states such as Florida, where insect pressure is so great that the crop was rarely grown there until chemical pesticides became widely used in the late 1940s. By planting the insect-protected sweet corn, Florida growers could decrease the number of times they treat their fields with insecticides from 12 to two on 80 percent of the state’‘s sweet corn acres.

The National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, non-governmental organization that provides objective research and educational information on issues relating to U.S. and global agricultural policy. For more than 14 years, the NCFAP has aided decision-makers in shaping better-informed policy choices related to farming, international trade, food safety, pesticide use and international development.

Preparation of the report is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Monsanto Company, the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI), and the American Crop Protection Association (ACPA).

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  • Interviews with Mr. Gianessi are available by contacting Dan Jenkins at 314/469-3500.
  • Mr. Gianessi will make available crop profiles and additional preliminary findings at the press conference.
  • The complete report, "The Potential for Biotechnology to Improve Crop Pest Management in the U.S.," will be released in September.
  • Visit to view additional NCFAP reports on agricultural biotechnology and pesticide use.

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