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Soybean association president defends biotech beans

The president of the American Soybean Association (www.amsoy.org) sent a letter to the media in which he defended transgenic soybeans against the findings of a new report.

"While farmers are busy putting the seeds of next year's crop in the ground, a noted critic of modern agricultural practices is sowing seeds of distrust with a new report about biotechnology-enhanced soybeans," wrote Tony Anderson. "While farmer confidence in biotechnology-enhanced soybeans is at an all-time high, as evidenced by the recent USDA planting intentions report, agriculture's critics won't admit this confidence is a result of proven gains -- both on the farm and in the environment -- so this latest report shouldn't surprise anyone."

Earlier today, Dr. Charles Benbrook of the Northwest Science and Environmental Policy Center issued a report discussing the increased herbicide use, reduced yields and the beginnings of weed resistance to herbicides that accompany the cultivation of Roundup Ready soybeans and the application of Roundup. (www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?RecID=312)

Anderson contended in his letter that the technology is helping farmers increase their profitability while protecting the environment:

"Like any other successful business, the bottom line for farmers is profitability. Scientists can debate all day long about the meaning of various comparisons and observations, while soybean producers know what works and what doesn't work on their farm when it comes to seedstock, herbicides, farm equipment or any other input costs they must carefully evaluate in order to make a profit."

He concluded by emphasizing the "rigorous" FDA, EPA and USDA reviews of transgenic crops and their effects on human and environmental health. In point of fact, very few independent, third party, peer reviewed studies have been completed on these foods.

Benbrook highlighted this in the executive summary of "Troubled Times Amid Commercial Success for Roundup Ready Soybeans."

"The lack of independent research on the ecological, agronomic and plant defense consequences of RR soybeans, until well after regulatory approvals and widespread market penetration blindsided regulators and has heightened the vulnerability of farmers...It is remarkable that over 100 million acres of Roundup Ready soybeans were planted in America before publication in 2001 of the first university data documenting the sometimes-serious depression of nitrogen fixation in RR soybean fields."

The report is available at: www.biotech-info.net/troubledtimes.html