As agricultural biotechnology gains popularity, the High Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology (HLPDAB) gathered government officials from APEC Economies to discuss regulatory systems and policies related to transgenic crop products.
Transgenic crops are helping to revolutionize farming, decreasing the need for pesticides and herbicides and allowing for more environmentally friendly no-till agricultural methods. In 2007, farmers worldwide planted over 114 million hectares of transgenic crops, a 12% increase over 2006 levels and 22% above 2005. In fact, more transgenic crops have been planted every year since 1996.
Asserts United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary, Ellen Terpstra,
"APEC economies must work together so that both farmers and consumers can realize the benefits of agricultural biotechnology."
In the second decade of large-scale commercialization and consumption of transgenic crops, the APEC Policy Dialogue addressed issues such as food safety, guidelines for science-based risk assessment; and the synchronization of approval systems of transgenic crops among trading partners.
"It is our responsibility as policy makers to ensure our farmers have access to all the tools that enable them to provide us with safe, wholesome and nutritious food. Agricultural biotechnology is one of those tools," says Terpstra.
The resistance of transgenic crops to pesticides and herbicides results in higher net yields for farmers; and new transgenic crops with traits to address the effects of heat and drought are currently underway. Ways to increase the nutritional value of foods are also being examined.
Recognizing the benefits of such developments to economies and to the region as a whole, the responsible use of biotechnology is a priority of the HLPDAB.
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