As farmers and processors representing the U.S. soybean industry, maintaining the integrity of food and export chains is one of the American Soybean Association's top priorities.
To be sure there is no confusion about the regulatory status of biotech soy products, ASA is supplying the following background information.
All soy grown commercially in the U.S. last year (2000) was approved by the U.S. government for food and feed uses. Knowing that customers are global, organizations also have successfully influenced the biotechnology seed companies to secure critical international approvals or only produce new biotech soybeans within a clearly-defined closed-loop system that ensures that biotech soybeans will not enter the U.S. export or general commodity markets. Soybean varieties with three biotechnology-enhanced traits have received U.S. approvals:
--Roundup Ready soybeans: Roundup Ready is the predominant U.S. biotechnological trait in existing soybean varieties that were grown on approximately 40 million acres last year--55% of total U.S. soybean production. These herbicide-tolerant soybeans are helping farmers protect the environment by allowing changes in tillage practices and herbicide applications. Through improved weed control, farmers also are producing cleaner crops that contain fewer non-grain materials. Roundup Ready soybeans have received international regulatory approval in more than 40 countries--including all major U.S. soybean export markets.
--High-Oleic soybeans: High-Oleic soybeans are a value-added soybean that produces a soybean oil that is lower in saturated fat. These soybeans do have U.S. food and feed approvals, but have not received needed regulatory approvals in Europe and Japan. As a result, only 6,000 acres of these soybeans were produced last year--all within a strict closed-loop, identity-preserved system that ensured the soybeans were grown under contract and were delivered to a single, identified processing facility.
--LibertyLink soybeans: These herbicide-tolerant soybeans have not been grown commercially in the U.S., because this trait has not received regulatory approval in major U.S. export markets.
Agricultural biotechnology is a tool that better enables U.S. farmers and processors to provide consumers with the safest, highest quality ingredients in the world. In harvesting these biotech soybeans over the past several years, farmers have reduced the amount of non-grain plant life in crops, implemented more environmentally-friendly pest management programs and enhanced the sustainable use of American farmland.
The coming generation of biotechnology-enhanced crops, with improved nutrition and health characteristics, offers great promise to American consumers and the U.S. food industry. Likewise, ASA thinks it is vital that farmers continue to have access to modern agricultural tools, such as biotechnology. Organizations will continue to advocate the responsible use of biotechnology-enhanced crops, and will continue to work with food companies as partners in providing food products that inspire consumer trust and confidence.