Some European Union buyers stopped importing U.S. soy in August after some shipments to Germany and Spain were allegedly found to contain traces of unapproved, biotech corn. Incidents like this illustrate why the soybean checkoff has made market access, such as gaining acceptance for new varieties of biotech soybeans in Europe, a top priority.
Earlier this summer as part of the market access effort the checkoff recruited eight farmers and agricultural officials from the European Union and brought them to the U.S. to gain more knowledge from U.S. soybean farmers about soybean varieties improved through the use of biotechnology.
Doug Goehring, a North Dakota soybean farmer who serves as a United Soybean Board Director, helped host the group on his farm for an up-close look at the many positive aspects of soybean varieties enhanced through biotech.
"The goal really was to network with them and show them the opportunities and benefits that exist," Goehring said. "I believe they really got the opportunity to see how those traits work in different areas and how producers use that technology to benefit their operation."
The group wrapped up its visit by taking part in a roundtable discussion with soybean checkoff farmer-leaders. Both sides exchanged ideas and information on how EU farmers and consumers might better understand the benefits of biotech.
Goehring believes the trip was a success because the European visitors will be able to use what they learned to help promote biotechnology.
"I believe it paid off well; it gives us the ability to showcase that technology and those traits," Goehring said. "They are going to take that back and they are going to share that information. They've seen it first hand so it is no longer anecdotal. I think they really grasped how its worked and what it has accomplished for production agriculture in the United States."
More information on the efforts to ensure market access for all U.S. soy is available at www.unitedsoybean.org.