Agriculture Subcommittee Holds Hearing to Review Biotechnology: Lucas Says Future of Biotechnology is Promising

Jun 23, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Congressman Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Rural Development, and Research, convened a hearing today to review biotechnology in agriculture and determine the future impact of biotechnology on world agriculture.

Biotechnology has long been a priority for Lucas. Last year, his subcommittee convened a hearing which focused on the regulatory aspects of this growing field.

In his opening statement, Chairman Lucas recognized the importance of new technology in agriculture to the producer in terms of input costs and production techniques.

Lucas said, "We are always looking for the next great innovation created from biotechnology, but the sheer amount of acceptance judged by acres planted to biotechnology products is amazing."

The Chairman asked witnesses to quantitatively describe the use of biotechnology in agriculture and report current and future products in the research pipelines. A complete list of witnesses can be found at the bottom of this release.

Advances in agriculture biotechnology are not limited to the United States. Although the U.S. accounts for a majority of the total percentage of plantings of biotechnology products, 37 percent of biotech plantings occur outside the U.S. Even as the European Union set up road blocks to biotechnology trade, its Member countries were spending millions on research and development for that very technology.

Ranking Member Tim Holden said, "It is important that Congress continues to aid in the industry's development especially in the face of international roadblocks to its progress."

The Chairman sought to explore future agriculture products that might serve to benefit entire populations.

"As the world population grows and producers need to feed those extra mouths using environmentally friendly production techniques with increased yields, biotechnology may be one of our only solutions," Lucas continued.

Lucas concluded by remarking on the promise biotechnology holds for rural America, including the potential for job creation and steady economic growth.

Ranking Member Holden added, "The role of the biotechnology sector in ensuring the economic viability of both farmers and non-farmers here at home cannot be overstated."

Witness List

Panel I

Mr. W. Pete Siggelko, Vice President, Plant Genetics and Biotechnology, Dow AgroSciences LLC, Indianapolis, Indiana

Mr. Thomas B. Klevorn, Head, Corn and Soybean Business Units, Plant Science, Golden Valley, Minnesota, on behalf of Syngenta

Dr. Michael D. Dykes, Vice President, Federal Government Affairs, Monsanto, Washington, D.C.

Panel II

Mr. David Winkles, President, South Carolina Farm Bureau, Sumter, South Carolina, on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation

Mr. Frank Yoder, Chairman, National Corn Growers Association, Plains City, Ohio

Dr. Joseph H. Bouton, Director, Forage Improvement Division, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore , Oklahoma

Dr. Mel Billingsley, CEO, Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania