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APRIL 2009



Vilsack Pledges Better Push On Biotech Crops

Philip Brasher Des Moines Register (Blog).
April 21, 2009

If there was any question about how the Obama administration would get behind agricultural biotechnology, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is removing any doubt. In fact, he says he's going to do a better job than the Bush administration. Just back from the G8 summit in Italy, Vilsack pledged today to bring a "more comprehensive and integrated" approach to promoting ag biotech overseas.

That will be good news to biotech companies such as Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto but it shouldn't be much of a surprise. Vilsack was a vocal backer of the biotech industry as governor, and President Barack Obama has been a supporter as well.

Speaking to a group of ag journalists today, Vilsack cited a recent inspector general's report that said USDA had not done enough to "facilitate trade opportunities" for biotech products. However, the report noted that some USDA officials have been opposed to getting involved in promoting the products of private companies. Much of the international opposition to genetically engineered seeds is centered in the European Union but that has led to resistance among countries in Africa and elsewhere that export food to Europe.

The declaration issued at the end of the G8 farm ministers' summit called for increased "investments in agricultural science, research, technology, education, extension services and innovation."