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NRC report examines biotech's benefits for U.S. farmers

American farmers are realizing higher profits due to the widespread use of certain genetically engineered crops and are reducing environmental impacts on and off the farm, according to a report from the National Research Council released on April 13.

Specifically, the report notes, "(m)any U.S. farmers who grow genetically engineered crops are realizing substantial economic and environmental benefits--such as lower production costs, fewer pest problems, reduced use of pesticides, and better yields--compared with conventional crops." The report was commissioned and internally funded by NRC in order to evaluate the impact of GE crops on all U.S. farmers.

Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, BIO executive vice president for Food and Agriculture issued the following statement in response to the report's release:

"The NRC's report acknowledges what we have known all along: That genetically engineered crops provide significant environmental, economic, and social benefits, and they are an integral tool in achieving sustainable agricultural production.

"Decades of documented evidence demonstrate that agricultural biotechnology is a safe and beneficial technology that contributes to both environmental and economic sustainability. Farmers choose biotech crops because they produce more yields on less land with less production costs. That means farmers get a greater financial return while using environmentally friendly farming practices.

"We support the NRC's recommendation for continued study of potential weed-resistance problems and further development of resistance-management practices. While this is a matter that warrants monitoring, it is not one exclusive to GE crops, but a common problem facing all farmers who use herbicides.

"BIO supports public sector researchers having the opportunity to conduct studies on commercially available, patent-protected seed products to understand the technology, education, extension and the safe and effective use of these products.

"As the world confronts agricultural challenges such as climate change and a higher-than-ever demand for food supplies, the NRC report assures us that advances in biotechnology are providing the solutions that are desperately needed by today's farmers."

The NRC report, The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States, is posted online at www.nap.edu.

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