What prompted the formation the formation of the Growers For Biotechnology? (formerly known as Growers for Wheat Biotechnology)
A group of wheat growers were concerned that the facts surrounding the benefits that biotechnology can and potentially could, deliver to the wheat industry, were not being brought to light.
What is the group’s purpose or objectives?
The Growers For Biotechnology, Inc. is dedicated to advocate the research, development and acceptance of biotechnology in wheat. Our stated objectives may be found by clicking on the “who we are” link, featured on this website.
Aren’t you in effect, really a mouthpiece for big pro-biotech corporations?
Whiles there’s no mistaking the fact that GFB supports further research and eventual adoption of biotechnology in wheat, we do not speak for those companies and organizations that are involved in developing and commercializing wheat biotech products. We are wheat producers who firmly believe the U.S. farmers should have the access to the best tools and technology and should be allowed to make their own decisions about how best to use them, or not use them.
It should also be pointed out that growers are often perceived more favorably by the public as credible information sources on biotechnology than other sources. For example, a recent survey of over 400 consumers in North Dakota by North Dakota State University indicated that respondents put more trust in farmers as credible information sources about genetically-modified foods than friends or family members, public interest groups, food manufacturers, clergy or grocery stores.
If there’s no support for biotech wheat, what will happen to research and development?
These companies have a business to run just like we do. If bans or moratoriums were placed on biotech research, their options would then be fairly simple; take their technologies elsewhere to recoup their investments or, shift their resources to other crops. In either scenario, the U.S. wheat industry loses and endangers its market leader position and would be left to play catch up to the rest of the world. We want those in the global wheat value chain to understand biotechnology is a critical tool that we must adopt in order to stay cost competitive and meet changing consumer demands for wheat-based products.
I’ve read where foreign and domestic customers say they don’t want biotech wheat, how do you respond to that?
We want to encourage our customers to take a second look at the benefits of biotechnology in wheat. First, we don’t think anybody has said they will introduce these products until competent regulatory authorities determine their safety and issue a full regulatory approval for the technology to be used in wheat production. Once regulatory approvals are in place, we believe customers will continue to have a choice between biotech and non-biotech wheat.
We firmly believe the U.S. has the capacity to grow both biotech wheat and non-biotech wheat and deliver it to customers around the world based on their preferences. Customers throughout the world currently purchase billions of dollars worth of biotech-derived commodities. In some parts of the world where consumers are concerned about biotechnology, we believe more education needs to take place and we want to play a constructive role in the education process.
Wouldn’t support of biotech wheat be a high-risk stand for the downstream wheat industry to take without clear support from consumers or producers?
If we demonstrate that the value is there, and that biotech wheat has passed the rigorous, science-based review of our regulatory system, food processors and retailers can help the U.S. wheat industry gain acceptance for biotech products. If that happens then we will have addressed the biggest hurdle the opposition has used against acceptance. In addition, we believe most wheat-based food products sold today utilize biotech ingredients.
For instance, in a loaf of bread there is usually biotech soy flour or oil plus biotech yeast. In fact, biotech yeast has been used in making bread in Europe, Japan, U.S. and many other countries for well over a decade. These products have been approved by regulatory authorities as being safe for human consumption, the same standard that biotech wheat will eventually achieve. Given biotechnology is already thoroughly incorporated into the food products we have been safely consuming for several years; we see no reason to discriminate against wheat producers who need the benefits that biotechnology can offer.
What is the structure of the GFB?
The group consists of a Board of Directors and its Executive Committee is made up of the four officers, which include a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer. The GFB will hold its annual meeting in the 4th quarter of the calendar year and may call other meetings, as the Board of Directors deems necessary.
How is the business of the GFB handled?
The Board of Directors manages the business affairs of the corporation.
How are directors chosen?
The bylaws stipulate that the Board of Directors shall be comprised of no more than 12 and no fewer than three directors. Directors shall be elected at the Annual Meeting of the Directors and shall serve a staggered 5-year term. If a director can’t fulfill his or her term, the Board of Directors may elect a replacement. The Board of Directors reserves sole authority to appoint directors to the Board.
How does the GFB receive its funding?
Each producer-director of the GFB has pledged a commitment of their own time and financial resources, to launch and execute the business of the corporation. The GFB will apply for, and accept reimbursements for travel expenses and/or grants to defray expenses, including development costs in the execution of its education outreach activities. The GFB will not solicit members or dues.
Does the GFB have an office?
The GFB has no offices and is essentially operated out of the home of the Board Chairman.
How can I reach the GFB?
Written inquiries may be sent to Growers for Biotechnology, P.O. Box 1454, Meridian, ID 83680-1454. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What activities does the GFB conduct?
There are a few major companies that currently have research and development underway, Monsanto being the most visible of those companies. Roundup Ready wheat is one product that could certainly benefit our producers, but our focus is on understanding and sharing the benefits of a much broader range of products that could be developed, with biotechnology.
For instance, we are very interested in disease resistance, drought tolerance, and nutritional enhancements – and we believe more attention needs to be focused on discussing the potential benefits from these products. We want to encourage this type of research and product development – and not see it hindered due to the lack of information and education about the potential benefits.
Q: What result are you looking for from the downstream customers?
We want the downstream customers to fully understand the value that biotechnology can capture and deliver from them and, armed with that understanding, we would like their support in securing market acceptance for biotech wheat.
What happens to the GFB if the introduction of biotechnology in wheat is banned or delayed?
While unfortunate, any ban, delay or moratorium on biotech wheat’s introduction and acceptance, wouldn’t cause us to fold our tents and go home. It just means that there’s more work to be done. Work with helping the downstream customer better understand the value biotechnology brings, helping educate producers on the value of biotechnology and the risks associated with losing access to it, and working with media and other industry stakeholders to make sure our voice is heard.
Do you have a set timetable for accomplishing your objectives?
No. We realize there’s a lot of work to be done before biotech wheat is accepted, and it will be some time before biotech wheat products are ready for market introduction. That’s why it’s so important to build the support for biotech wheat now so we can get these tools into the market sooner than later. The more we delay, the more catching up we have to do later.