Memo of Understanding

MAIZALL Logo

Memorandum of Understanding on the Creation of an International Maize Alliance to Communicate Modern Agricultural Production and Collaborate on Biotechnology Policy Across the Americas

May 14, 2013
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Purpose:

Through this Memorandum of Understanding, likeminded maize grower organizations from Argentina, Brazil and the United States (U.S.) express their intent to communicate the benefits of modern agriculture and address global trade barriers and obstacles to the introduction of new agricultural technologies – particularly biotechnology – through an international alliance.

Background:

As both populations and economies continue to grow, the global middle class is expanding rapidly. World population is expected to increase more than 30% in the next 40 years, from 7 billion to more than 9 billion in 2050. This increase in population and buying power has led to an ever-growing demand for maize and other feed ingredients as diets are improving globally. Food security is a priority for every country. Countries can be food secure without being self-sufficient by establishing relationships and building trust with exporting countries to be long-term, reliable suppliers of quality feed and food supplies.

Farmers in exporting countries are poised to capitalize on the growing demand for higher quality foods through continued adoption of research, best farming practices and biotechnology.  In countries where it has been embraced, biotechnology has boosted yields and grain quality, reduced the intensity of chemical and fertilizer application, conserved soil, organic content and moisture, and enhanced returns to producers.   Agricultural biotechnology is a critical component of the larger bio-economy that is necessary to sustainably provide for the needs of the growing global population and mitigate the impacts of climate change, while protecting valuable natural resources.

After billions of acres planted and trillions of meals served, agricultural biotechnology has demonstrated itself to be a safe technology for humans, animals and the environment. Nonetheless, the time needed to bring new crop technologies to the market has increased unreasonably due to delays in the approval processes in both cultivating and importing countries. Government officials and scientists worldwide recognize the safety of biotechnology, but technical and political delays in the approval of new biotech events continue to create real and potential trade disruptions.

We are at a time when the growth of the global middle class is exerting sustained pressure on input and food prices, increasing concerns about food security. The lack of predictable, functional, practical, and science-based regulatory and trade policies  in reviewing and approving new crop technologies by governments worldwide are imposing a crippling burden on innovation.  For growers, the delays in introducing new technologies mean lost opportunities for higher yields and lower input costs. For consumers facing ever-rising food prices, the consequences are more acute.

There is a fundamental need for governments worldwide to reexamine how products derived from biotechnology are regulated.

Substance:

Signatories to this Memorandum express their commitment to communicating to consumers the benefits of biotechnology and other elements of modern production agriculture; reducing asynchronous and asymmetric approvals for biotech varieties worldwide; and harmonizing regulatory systems of the Americas with the objective of mutual recognition of biotech approvals between governments. As maize exporting countries whose growers cultivate biotech crops, Argentina, Brazil, and the United States face many of the same barriers to the global sale of maize and maize co-products.

The primary focus of this alliance is to collaborate on a global basis to address key issues concerning food security, biotechnology, stewardship, trade and producer image. The maize sectors of the countries signing this document will work together on the following issues:

  1. Communication on Modern Agriculture: There is consensus on the need to provide better consumer understanding of production agriculture, including the benefits of biotechnology and advancing the global acceptance on the capacity to produce grain for feed, food and fuel.
  2. Global asynchronous and asymmetric approvals: The governments and industry of Argentina, Brazil, and the U.S. need to present a unified voice in advocating to foreign governments of major importing countries to synchronize global approvals of biotechnology products and foster the development of policies that manage instances of low level presence (LLP) of not yet approved biotech events.
  3. Harmonization of regulatory policies in the Americas:  Recognizing the need for harmonization of global regulatory approval processes for new biotech events, the American, Argentine and Brazilian maize sectors would like to see a harmonization of regulatory policies in the Americas with the end objective of mutual recognition of biotech approvals.

The following organizations pledge to work cooperatively to achieve the goals and objectives of the international maize alliance—MAIZALL:

Sergio Luiz Bortolozzo
ABRAMILHO
Brazil

Alberto Morelli
MAIZAR
Argentina

Don Fast
U.S. Grains Council
United States of America

Pamela Johnson
National Corn Growers Association
United States of America