The United Nations designated October 16 as World Food Day to increase awareness of the growing number of people across the globe who go hungry. The 2010 theme of World Food Day, "United Against Hunger," reflects a major goal of this day - to draw attention to the need for agricultural food production and encourage partnerships to increase global food production. The United Soybean Board and the national soybean checkoff continue to lead the way in leveraging partnerships to sustainably meet demand for U.S. soy and in turn address global food supply needs.
"USB farmer-leaders not only support production research but also initiatives to inform as many people as we can about the importance of biotechnology," says Laura Foell, checkoff farmer-leader from Schaller in northwest Iowa, and member of the USB Biotechnology Initiative. "Biotechnology will be important in the future as more food is needed for the growing world population, and there will not be any more land made on which to grow the food."
Checkoff's Biotechnology Initiative is improving market access
The soybean checkoff's Biotechnology Initiative works to improve market access for U.S. soybeans improved through the use of biotechnology and to increase knowledge and awareness about the importance biotech crops will have in feeding the world. "Farmers have accepted biotech crops as part of their efforts to have a safe, sustainable food supply," adds Foell.
Soybean checkoff-funded research led to the complete mapping of the soybean genome in 2009. This milestone has already begun to speed up the process of soybean research and development of new U.S. soybean varieties with enhanced traits that can better meet the needs of major domestic and international customers of U.S. soybeans and soy products.
By working with scientists, USB continues to fund research to protect U.S. soybean yields from an array of yield-reducing pests and diseases. Soybean checkoff funds have also assisted in the development of drought-tolerant soybeans. This new line of soybeans could allow farmers to produce food with less water. USDA expects U.S. soybean farmers to harvest another record-sized U.S. soybean crop this year. These achievements could lead to a continued growth in soybean production to aid in feeding the growing global population.
Produce nutritious food in an environmentally sustainable way
"I believe most farmers are humanitarians at heart," says Foell. "We want to produce nutritious food for a hungry world in a way that's environmentally sustainable. We have to use the best tools and technologies to make the most of what we've got for the good of the world, and biotechnology is one of the tools."
USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal use, human use, industrial use, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Ag Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.