Top policymakers from more than 20 countries took a firsthand look at corn production in Iowa during a stop on a tour last week, as part of the annual International Biotechnology Information Conference. The conference this year drew more than 70 attendees involved in food safety and governmental regulations in nations around the world.
The conference and visit to an Iowa farm to learn about how biotechnology is being used in agriculture is held as part of the week-long activities of the World Food Prize symposium and ceremony in Des Moines each year.
"Our goal is to help the regulators from other countries understand biotechnology, its implications and to help open up markets around the world for Iowa corn," says Craig Floss, CEO of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the Iowa Corn Growers Association. "The attendees at this conference are the decision makers that can make or break biotech markets in their countries.”
This was the fifth annual conference
“We are taking this opportunity to expose these folks who attend our conference to the scientists and the growers here in the United States who are knowledgeable about biotech corn and soybean production. This is critical for these regulatory people who are here to learn about biotech. It improves their ability to go back to their home countries and communicate to others what they have learned here."
The week-long annual conference travels through Iowa and Nebraska and is focused on international agreements and national safety regulations as they apply to modern biotechnology. While in Iowa, attendees were able to see production during a field demonstration on the Gordon Wassenaar farm near Prairie City. They were also given the opportunity to visit with corn growers in the field and ask questions during a panel discussion in Wassenaar’s machine shed.
This year marks the fifth International Biotechnology Information Conference. A number of organizations continue to sponsor the effort including the U.S. Grains Council, Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Nebraska Corn Board and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). Photos from the conference are available at www.iowacorn.org/news/news_5.html. ICPB, made up of 17 Iowa growers, collects $7 million annually to develop and defend markets, fund research and provide education about corn and corn products.