Biotechnology has emerged as a potential solution to the growing need for food and increased demand for crop quality and yields. New biotech developments, however, can take time to reach farmers, in part because of uncoordinated international regulatory approval processes. The Illinois Soybean Association has responded by announcing an extensive agenda to discuss regulatory and trade issues facing biotechnology during the association's International Biotechnology Symposium on August 26 in Champaign, Ill.

The agenda includes experts in biotechnology and agricultural trade and four international panels featuring experts in biotechnology development, regulatory processes, international trade and business. A panel will also include farmers from Europe, South America and the United States. The keynote speaker is Dr. Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, director of economics and management of the Agrobiotechnology Center and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council endowed professor of agricultural economics at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

"Regulation is an important part of the biotech innovation process," Kalaitzandonakes said. "Regulation is in place to make sure that new products are safe and are used responsibly, but it also is in place to reduce uncertainty and improve the flow of new biotech products."

Kalaitzandonakes plans to speak about the history of biotechnology innovation, as well as the current state of biotechnology, what has changed in terms of the global regulatory framework and how changes are affecting the future biotech pipeline in the U.S. and elsewhere.

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Steve Wellman, a farmer from Nebraska and chairman of the American Soybean Association, stresses that an improved biotechnology approval process is equally important to consumers as it is to the farmers who grow biotech crops.

"The goal behind biotech crops is to increase production in order to have more food available with healthy benefits," says Wellman. "If the process moved along more quickly, we would have more interest from scientists and experts to enter the marketplace and develop new traits."

The Illinois Soybean Association invites leaders in agriculture, food and trade from major grain importing and exporting countries to begin work on a biotech solution now. The symposium will be held the day before the 2013 Farm Progress Show begins in nearby Decatur, Ill. Those interested in attending can register at the International Biotechnology Symposium website.

Sponsors of the symposium include U.S. Soybean Export Council, Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences, Penton/Farm Progress, WinField, Bayer CropScience, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Nebraska Soybean Board, Ohio Soybean Council and the National Soybean Research Laboratory.