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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Republican Leader Dusty Johnson Joint Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture and Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Hearing

Thank you, Mr. Chairman for hosting this joint subcommittee hearing on agricultural biotechnology. I’m grateful this is a joint subcommittee, because obviously there are enormous implications on both the livestock and horticulture sides, and we’ll get more done working together. 

There is a moral and technological issue facing this committee and society – how do we feed a growing world while being good stewards of the environment? The United Nations Population Division expects there will be nearly 10 billion people on earth by the year 2050. We are called to feed the world, and we will not succeed without innovation, without technology.  We will increase weight gain and yields, we will reduce our carbon footprint, we will improve animal welfare, and we will do those things by embracing ingenuity, progress, and innovation.

We have a positive story to tell in agriculture. Innovation has allowed our producers to produce more food with fewer resources. Livestock producers in South Dakota and elsewhere have been adopting things like genetically enhanced EPDs, IVF and Embryo Transfer, as well as extensive artificial insemination to increase profitability and efficiency of our genetics.  The technology is advancing even further, though. While many of the breakthroughs of the past focused on crops, innovation in the livestock sector is accelerating. From disease resistant pigs to polled Holstein cattle, these innovations have the potential to vastly improve the production landscape.

I look forward to hearing from the panel on what is and is not working with current laws and regulations. For example, where we stand on efforts like implementation of Bioengineering Food Disclosure Standard, and views on how the coordinated framework can and should be applied to GE livestock, as well as on any other evolving regulatory hurdles.

Making progress on these issues will require an international approach. Let’s be frank – there are too many in the world who cast doubts on science as a tool, and they actively lobby international institutions to adopt their anti-innovation agenda. I look forward to working with this committee to not only ensure the U.S. maintains a science-driven regulatory system but that we are actively advocating that position abroad. That will involve extensive consumer education as well as trade commitments that maintain predictability on standards.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and I look forward to working with you on these important issues.