This week is National Ag Week, a time to celebrate the abundance provided by our nation’s farmers and ranchers. Every year producers, agricultural associations, checkoff groups, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America join together to recognize the contributions of American agriculture.
The soybean checkoff supports Ag Week and U.S. farmers’ ability to help meet the food, feed, fuel and fiber needs of a growing population. The United Nations continues to call on farmers to increase production by 50%, as the global population is estimated to reach 9 billion by 2030. One way the soybean checkoff works to help farmers meet that goal is to maintain the ability to use the latest technology available to ensure success. For example, the United Soybean Board’s (USB) Biotechnology Initiative disseminates fact-based information about the benefits of biotech crops, especially soybeans.
“Our number one goal is to start implementing a strategy to promote biotechnology understanding and acceptance around the world,” says Richard Fordyce, USB Biotechnology Initiative team lead and soybean farmer from Bethany, MO. “U.S. soybean farmers tell the story of biotechnology around the world and answer questions to promote this understanding.”
Global acceptance of biotechnology continues to be a challenge that can limit the impact biotechnology can have in increasing food production throughout the world.
“Biotechnology has increased yields, and, given the fact that there will not be additional land, it’s important to increase yields to continue to feed the growing global population,” says Fordyce. “Biotechnology has also improved soil conservation, as no-till farming and other sustainable farm-management techniques are much easier to implement with biotech crops.”
In addition, biotechnology will continue to add value for consumers. Many traits that are in the soybean research pipeline have consumer benefits, such as heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid, high oleic/low saturates and, eventually, antibodies. The soybean research pipeline currently holds as many as 12 key soybean biotech traits that could be part of new, commercialized U.S. soybean varieties within the next five to seven years.