Concept Paper


North-South America Collaboration on Agricultural Biotechnology Policy

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 in 2012 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.

Agricultural biotechnology is a key component of the growing global bio-economy based on the use of research and innovation in the biological sciences to create economic activity, sustainable growth and provide public benefit. Agricultural biotechnology is a great success for the maize sector, leading to higher, more consistent yields that supply domestic and international end-users. The agricultural value-chain as a whole has benefited from the widespread adoption of this technology. However, regulatory barriers worldwide restrict the access maize producers in the Americas have to the global market and slow the adoption of new, more advanced technologies.

Historically, the challenges to the trade of biotech-derived products have largely been due to the lack of scientific understanding. Now, governments worldwide with science-based regulatory processes 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. There is recognition of the need to develop and reform regulations to reduce barriers, increase the speed and predictability of regulatory processes, and reduce costs while protecting human and environmental health.

As maize exporting countries whose producers 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. As a result, it is proposed that an international maize alliance with these and other likeminded countries work together on the following issues:

  1. 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.
  2. Harmonization of regulatory policies in the Americas:  Recognizing the need for harmonization of global regulatory approval processes for new biotech events, the U.S. and South American corn sector would like to see a harmonization of regulatory policies in the Americas with the end objective of mutual recognition of biotech approvals.
  3. 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.