Ensuring Accessibility to Biotechnology

afbf-14-5Ensuring access to biotechnology was the topic Biotechnology Industry Organization’s (BIO), Dr. Cathleen Enright, presented on during the 2014 American Farm Bureau Federation convention this week in San Antonio.

Cathleen is the Executive VP for Food and Agriculture at BIO. Her presentation focused on the need to advocate on behalf of biotech in light of challenges from activists and others. She also drove home the point that farmers and ranchers need to have access to this technology.

“The current climate is challenging as I’m sure you are aware. There is a lot of opposition that has come on the last couple of years. Folks are making very good use of social media with an online presence. Our industry hasn’t done a very good job of that. These folks had an agenda and they did a really good job of making their case. We just weren’t there. Now we are with GMO Answers. It is one piece of a multi-pronged strategy that we have to pay full attention to and invest in.”

Cathleen stated that GMO’s are the only technology that allows us to make multi-year gains in a single season. She added that this means profitability for famers and the ability to meet the world’s food demand and feed 9 billion people by 2050.

Remember there has not been any scientific study proving there is any negative impact from GMO’s. She reminds us that it’s simply a gene of known sequence and function that produces a trait in a crop that is of known function and structure. There is no mystery.

The first step to opening that dialogue is acknowledging people’s skepticism about food made with GM ingredients.

“We have great stories that are not being heard because we are not believed,” she said. “Only when our audiences understand we are listening to them will they listen to us.”

Last year BIO launched the GMO Answers website, through which they invite anyone to ask any question about biotechnology. And ask people did. From July through December, 626 questions were posed and 404 were answered. Another 100-plus are in the process of being answered. Also during this time, there were more than 120,000 visits to the site and more than 526,000 page views, with visitors spending more than 5 minutes on the site on average. These questions are answered by independent, third-party experts.

BIO is hitting the road with GMO Answers and collaborating with many other organizations to help educate the public about biotech. Cathleen explains that this technology isn’t going away, but we do need to speak out and explain it.

Listen to the complete audio from ag media’s interview with Dr. Enright here: Interview with Cathleen Enright

2014 AFBF Convention Photos

Biotech Crops Alliance Names Secretariat

An alliance of organizations supporting biotech crops has named a leader to help “spearhead collaborative efforts to improve the environment for technology innovation and the market for U.S. crops produced through modern biotechnology.”

mjp-biotechDr. Michael J. Phillips has been selected as the first secretariat for the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance (USBCA), which was established by several organizations under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2012. The USBCA has been developing and working to “implement consensus positions on key policy issues designed to improve the introduction, stewardship, domestic and international regulatory policy, and distribution in U.S. and export markets of commodities and processed products containing or derived from modern biotechnology.”

In his capacity as secretariat, Phillips will be the focal point of the group’s efforts to further advance the reach, work and wide range of activities being pursued under the expanding broad-based national initiative that currently consists of 11 influential national organizations representing U.S. biotechnology providers; seed, grain and oilseed producers; grain handlers, feed manufacturers, grain processors and millers; exporters; and other end-users. The secretariat also will serve a key role in helping develop and implement consensus positions on specific policy issues.

Phillips is president of MJ Phillips and Associates LLC, an agricultural consulting firm that specializes in agricultural biotechnology issues, and prior to that was vice president for science and regulatory policy for food and agriculture at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

The USBCA’s founding organizations include National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, American Seed Trade Association, Biotechnology Industry Organization, National Grain and Feed Association, and North American Export Grain Association. Other national organizations now members of USBCA are American Farm Bureau Federation, Corn Refiners Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, U.S. Grains Council and U.S. Soybean Export Council.

ASTA Update on The Accord at Seed Expo

Patents for the very first ag biotech “events,” as they are called, will be expiring and becoming “generic” in 2015. This creates opportunities for growers and the seed industry, but also creates challenges that must be addressed – and that is the purpose of “The Accord”.

American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) Vice President for Science and International Affairs Bernice Slutsky presided over an update for seed industry representatives today at the ASTA CSS 2012 & Seed Expo. “The Accord is a framework that we developed to provide a mechanism for that transition from proprietary biotech events to off-patent or generic biotech events,” Bernice explained. “The real driver for us developing the Accord was that even though these events are going off patent, they are still highly regulated worldwide.”

So, the immediate goal was to develop a framework to assure that the necessary regulatory authorizations for the events are maintained, and most importantly, that commodity trade can continue unhindered.

Bernice explains more about how the Accord was developed in cooperation with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and what it means for farmers in this interview: Interview with Bernice Slutsky

The first part of the Accord, called the Generic Event Marketability and Access Agreement (GEMAA), was opened up for the first signatures on October 31.

John Schoenecker of vegetable seed company H.M. Clause, who is second vice chair for ASTA and part of the negotiating group for the Accord, says they have now gotten the initial signatories in place to put the GEMAA into effect and ASTA is moving forward with providing information to other interested parties. “Feedback has been good, lots of questions of course,” he said about reaction to the Accord from ASTA membership. “Their seed association has worked very hard in their interests to craft an agreement that will give opportunities to the industry and fulfill the industry’s responsibility for stewardship.” He encourages companies, farmers, organizations and other interested parties to find out more about the Accord and how it impacts them. A website has been developed for that purpose – agaccord.org.

Listen to my interview with John here: Interview with John Schoenecker

ASTA-CSS Photo Album

Syngenta Gets BIO Award for Feeding the World

BIOSyngenta was honored this week at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) International Convention in Chicago with an award recognizing achievements in crop productivity innovations that help feed the world.

SyngentaBIO annually honors companies in the categories of “Healing, Feeding and Fueling the World” based on a pre-conference poll of attendees. Syngenta was named the “Buzz of BIO” award winner in the “Feeding the World” category by attendees at this year’s BIO International Convention.

“The Buzz of BIO contest has been a popular part of our pre-convention activities. BIO International Convention attendees voted for their choices and Syngenta was the winner this year in the Feeding category. Congratulations,” said John Craighead, Managing Director of Investor Relations & Business Development, Biotechnology Industry Organization.

Charles Holliday Receives George Washington Carver Award

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today presented the annual George Washington Carver Award for Innovation in Industrial Biotechnology to DuPont Chairman of the Board Charles (Chad) O. Holliday, Jr., recognizing his commitment to industrial biotechnology as a tool for sustainable business growth. The award was given during the 2009 World Congress underway in Montreal with more than 1,100 attendees.

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Chad Holliday with the GWCarver award and Mark Wright of Iowa State, the recipient of the Carver scholarship

The George Washington Carver Award was created in honor of George Washington Carver, who attended Iowa State University, and honors individuals in the private industry, government or academia who have made a significant contribution to the economic and innovative growth of the biotech industry. In addition, the efforts of the individual must focus on environmentally sustainable processes – more critical now than ever.

“Many of the technologies here today will help us address climate change,” said Holliday. He noted that while this is not the only issue facing the world today, it was one of the most critical and is confident that biotech companies, through innovation, will help to alleviate the issue.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, said, “BIO is pleased to recognize the contributions to the field of industrial biotechnology and outstanding accomplishments of DuPont Chairman Chad Holliday.”

Erickson continued, “George Washington Carver is considered one of the founding fathers of modern industrial biotechnology. Following his legacy, industrial biotechnology companies today are developing new methods to use renewable agricultural resources to manufacture fuels, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food ingredients. The field has developed in ways that Carver may never have imagined, but the work of industrial biotech companies remains true to the goal of a sustainable agricultural economy that includes production of useful everyday products.”

Holliday noted that he was “deeply honored” to recieve the award that recognizes and promotes the work toward the goal of developing new, sustainable products and technologies to help make peoples’ lives around the world more secure.

Accompanying the award is a George Washington Carver scholarship given in the name of Charles O. Holliday, Jr., to Iowa State University graduate student Mark Wright, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Biorenewable Resources and Technology. The award is sponsored by DSM, the Iowa Biotechnology Association and the Iowa Department of Economic Development.

Monsanto Talks Sustainability

Michael Doane, Monsanto's Sustainability Team LeadThe recent surge in profitability within the agriculture sector is giving farmers and ag companies a bit of room to breath. But, Monsanto says, just a bit. Michael Doane, Monsanto’s Sustainability Team Lead says that with profitability comes responsibility: a responsibility for the agricultural climate of the future. There are big questions, Michael says, that begged to be asked, and, hopefully, answered. How do we meet the growing demand? How do farmers fit into the growing needs of the recent future? What will the world look like for our children? Will it be a world, Michael asked, that has a lot of pressure on its resource base?

“We’re going to have to produce more food on the same acres between now and 2050 then we’ve produced in the last 10,000 years combined,” Michael said. “That’s pretty substantial. That’s going to get us to twice the level of annual food production in 2050 versus today.”

Michael says responding to such demands is a responsibility that must be shared throughout the ag sector. But, he says, Monsanto is eagerly doing it’s part to help.

“This conversation about sustainability kind of hit us right between the eyes,” Michael said. “We went out and started talking to a lot of people about agriculture; and what doing more with less would look like; what would be important there.”

Ultimately, Michael says, Monsanto’s goal is to make farmers more productive and, consequently, more financially successful.

“Our goal is to make every farmer we serve better off the next year than they were the previous year,” Michael said.

And, Michael says, that goal is meant to benefit farmers all over the world.

“In developing countries we think we also need to do that,” Michael said. “So, we’ve committed to helping 5 million resource-poor farmers, who are simply trying to feed their families, do that.”

But, as much as Monsanto recognizes its role in securing the future of farming and the future of feeding the world, the Michael says finding long-term, sustainable solutions will be a team effort.

“It’s going to be the ‘we’ collectively that does this,” Michael said.

You can download and listen to Michael Doane’s entire speech at the 2008 Farm Progress Show in Boone, IA here:

Listen to

You can also download the speech with this link.

Check out our Farm Progress Show 2008 Photo Album.

AgWired coverage of the 2008 Farm Progress Show
is sponsored by: BASF and New Holland

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Michael Peterson and Joe Jobe Perform on XM

The executive director of the National Biodiesel Board is not just a country music fan, but also a country music singer… well, for his wife and kids at home at least. But today, Joe got a bit more exposure than a home audience. He performed live on the Dave Nemo Show on XM Radio with renowned country music singer/songwriter Michael Peterson.

Michael and Joe also delved into energy issues, renewable fuels and where all that fits in with public policy. Joe says the National Biodiesel Board is aiming to have biodiesel replace five percent of the national supply of diesel fuel. He says that is equivalent to the amount of diesel the U.S. if refining and importing from in Iraq. In other words, he says the National Biodiesel Board is aiming to replace the diesel fuel we get from Iraq.

Some critics arguing against renewable fuels point out that the alternative fuel sources will never fully replace the need for oil. But, Joe says that’s not the point, “That’s like saying if you can’t do everything than you shouldn’t do anything.” Joe says The National Biodiesel Board simply doesn’t share that frame of thought. That’s why it has launched the BioTrucker Fuel Card. The card offers card holders cash price on all biodiesel fuel at 5,000 participating locations and special discounts at select truck stops all without any transaction fees. Those interested can sign up for the card at BioTrucker.com.

Both Michael and Joe lauded the farmers that make up the nation’s ag industry. Joe says agriculture is a powerful industry that fosters cutting-edge, technological innovation. “Ag is slow to move but powerful to respond,” Joe said.

You can listen to the entire broadcast of the Dave New Show with Michael and Joe here:

Listen to

I also got some videos of Michael and Joe while they were singing and strumming their guitars. You can watch the videos here:


2008 CMA Music Festival Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the CMA Country Music Festival is sponsored by:
New Holland

Schwarzenegger to Speak at BIO International Summer Convention

The state of sustainable agriculture in developing countries will be one of the main issues addressed at the BIO International Convention this summer. The Biotechnology Industry Organization is hosting the convention in San Diego from Tuesday, June 17 through Friday, June 20.

Biotechnology leaders from around the globe will be descending upon San Diego, one of the leading biotech hubs in the world, to discuss the most pressing issues and share their unique perspectives. In addition, there will be a total of 36 regional and country pavilions within the BIO Exhibition with several new pavilions, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Dubai, and South Africa.

This years convention will focus on the promise of biotech innovation to heal, fuel and feed the world. International case studies on biofuels, biomanufacturing, research funding, and international collaborations will focus on examples from Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, North America, Singapore, and Sweden. Two additional breakout session tracks will focus on doing business globally and global health. A session entitled, The Dynamics of a Globalized World and the Future of the Biotechnology Industry, will feature international public officials sharing insights on the evolving business landscape.

This years keynote speakers include Gen. Colin Powell, J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Continue reading

Ethanol God-Father Hits the Airwaves

David BlumeThe man known as the “Ethanol God-Father” is set to tackle the “myths” about ethanol in Oregon, Illinois, Wisconsin and California. Blume will be giving speeches at various Renewable Energy Conferences and Seminars. The “Bio-expert” will also be featured on XM radio and T.V.

The International Institute for Sustainable Agriculture has announced that its founder and current Executive Director, David Blume has been asked to appear on radio, TV and as a lead speaker for a number of renewable energy symposiums in the coming two months. Blume is globally acknowledged as the “god-father” of ethanol and is a leading advocate and expert on renewable solutions to the global need for inexpensive, non-polluting, and sustainable energy and food sources.

Blume’s coming talks provide unrivaled insight into the practicality of transforming US energy production and use to a totally sustainable model. Blume presents myth-busting facts, scientific data, and proven methodologies that give audiences a revolutionary first-person look at truly sustainable solutions to global warming, green house gas emissions, food resource issues as well as provide them with a road-map to a new post-oil economy.

As part of his coming in-person appearances, Blume will be a featured guest on the Thom Hartmann Radio Program. Now in its fifth year of national syndication and heard globally on XM and Sirius satellite radio, Hartmann’s program is carried in 7 of the nation’s top 10 media markets and 14 of the top 25 markets. Hartmann is also a featured commentator in the new Leonardo DiCaprio environmental documentary The 11th Hour.
Continue reading

New Media Reporting on BIO 2007

I have mentioned that the Biotechnology Industry Organization has embraced the use of new media tools for their current BIO 2007 taking place in Boston. Today their PR firm sent out an email that started out, “Bloggers, If you were unable to attend the BIO convention in Boston, you can still cover this event. . . “ Now how cool is it that they’re reaching out to the “bloggers?” They even mention a couple of them like Pharmalot and Patent Baristas. Stephen Albainy-Jenei who writes Patent Baristas looks like he got the gig to be the official BIO Blogger on their BIO Voice. Now there’s someone I’d like to meet since I haven’t run into too many who do what I do.

I’m not sure who it is that sent me this but the keynote speaker at BIO 2007 today was Michael J. Fox. You can watch a short video clip of his speech on YouTube.

So it looks like new media reporting has hit the biotech arena in a big way. I remember being told by the BIO staff last year that I was the only blogger on site. I guess times have changed.

BIO 2007 Blog In Progress

BIO 2007Well I’m going to miss BIO 2007. But here’s some interesting notes.

They have a blog now. Can you imagine an organization like BIO having a blog? Last year at their convention I was basically the only person there blogging it. Now they have their own.

Oh, and here’s another interesting thing they’re doing. An online Flickr photo album and they’re encouraging others to upload their photos and tag them with BIO2007. What a great idea. If you can’t be there then how about a photo? Why not let your members or customers see what you’re doing? Depend on someone else to do it for you? Never!

Canadian Farmer Biotech Advocate

Jim PallisterAt the recent BIO Convention I got to speak with Canadian farmer Jim Pallister. Jim was attending thanks to the Council for Biotechnology Information. Jim grows canola, edible beans and wheat. He’s an outspoken advocate of the benefits of biotechnology.

You can listen to my interview with Jim here: Listen To MP3 Jim Pallister Interview (3 min MP3)

AgWired coverage of BIO 2006 is made possible by: Rhea & Kaiser Marketing Communications

BIO 2006 Coverage Statistics

BIO 2006I was just looking over some statistics from my recent coverage of the BIO 2006 Convention that I thought you might be interested in. These are only for AgWired since I did some posts on other ZimmComm blogs.

  • 50 posts, 129 images, 26 audio/interview files, 9 video clips
  • During this time we had 38,000 pages views (doesn’t count audio/video downloads)
  • The audio/video files were downloaded between 10 to 50 times each
  • Not too bad for a couple days work, eh?

    Posted in BIO

    Biotech Grows In South Africa

    Farmers From South AfricaThanks to the Council for Biotechnology Information I was able to meet two very interesting men from South Africa at the BIO 2006 Convention. Pictured with me in the middle are Advocate Mdutshane (L), a corn grower and tribal leader and Dr. Khosi Rebe (R), who is the assistant director of the Eastern Cape Department of Agriculture. Both of these guys are supporters of biotechnology.

    In my interview with them you’ll hear what people in Africa think about biotech and what they want American farmers to know about them and their country. You might be interested to know for example, that there is no market system there as we know it here.

    You can listen to my interview with them here: Listen To MP3 South Africa Biotech Interview (13 min MP3)

    AgWired coverage of BIO 2006 is made possible by: Rhea & Kaiser Marketing Communications

    Farm Leader Now Farm Podcaster

    Dean KlecknerWhen your farmer board members tell you to podcast, you podcast. That’s what Dean Kleckner, Truth About Trade & Technology is doing. Dean is the former president of the American Farm Bureau Federation and a farmer from Iowa. We brought his podcast to your attention recently and at the BIO 2006 Convention I got to ask him about it. You can hear his answer here: Listen To MP3 Kleckner Soundbite (30 sec MP3)

    Besides having farmers tell him to podcast Kleckner says, “It’s the wave of the future that’s here today. So that us farmers, when we’re in our tractor, combine, pickup, we can listen to what’s going on in the world.”

    Kleckner was at BIO 2006 to talk about how much biotech crop acreage has grown in a decade. We talked next to the indoor corn field where his organization had their acreage counter on display. You can listen to the full interview with him here: Listen To MP3 Kleckner Interview (5 min MP3)

    AgWired coverage of BIO 2006 is made possible by: Rhea & Kaiser Marketing Communications

    Puerto Rico Governor Wins BIO Award

    Governor of Puerto RicoDuring BIO 2006, Puerto Rico Gov. Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá (pictured) was named BIO “Governor of the Year.” I missed him and the reception to honor him but caught up with his Secretary of Economic Development, Jorge P. Silva-Puras.

    In my interview with him he talks about how important the agricultural biotechnology business is to Puerto Rico. One of the reasons is the climate which is very friendly to year-round crop testing. You can listen to my interview with Jorge here: Listen To MP3 Jorge Silva Interview (3 min MP3)

    I interviewed Jorge during the Puerto Rico pavilion trade show reception. You can see and hear the celebration here: : Watch WMV file Puerto Rico Reception (1 min wmv)

    AgWired coverage of BIO 2006 is made possible by: Rhea & Kaiser Marketing Communications

    BIO 2006 Photo Album

    BIO Career FairIt’s Good Friday and not a day to do a lot of posting so I’m only going to provide you with my Photo Album from the BIO 2006 Convention. I didn’t get to go to the Career Fair but I found this picture from the BIO website.

    Have a very enjoyable Easter weekend.

    You can find the online Flickr photo album here: Bio 2006 Photo Album

    AgWired coverage of BIO 2006 is made possible by: Rhea & Kaiser Marketing Communications

    Collect Cards To Exit

    Iowa Team MembersAt the closing reception you had to find these guys and obtain one heart, spade, clover and diamond to get your take home gift on your way out from the reception.

    Each card was printed with facts about Iowa and it’s biotech industry.

    Fortunately you didn’t have to memorize the cards, just show them at the exit door. I think this is a great idea.

    AgWired coverage of BIO 2006 is made possible by: Rhea & Kaiser Marketing Communications

    Posted in BIO

    BIO Dancer At Closing Reception

    BIO DancerThe closing reception was just as good as the others at BIO 2006.

    We had great food, beverage and music which featured dancers like this young lady.

    The reception took place at the Chicago Theater, a very nice venue with 3 levels of reception activity.

    AgWired coverage of BIO 2006 is made possible by: Rhea & Kaiser Marketing Communications

    Posted in BIO