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Even With Biotech Opposition In EU, Animal Farmers Represent Strong Market For U.S. Soy

Public acceptance of biotechnology has slowly improved among Europeans since the 1990s. Although several countries still oppose biotech crops, the European Union (EU) is a major livestock producer and faces a shortage of homegrown feed protein. Because of this, European farmers are expected to remain dependent upon biotech soy imports produced in the United States, Brazil and Argentina. To pave the way for more acceptance, U.S. and South American farmers have visited agricultural leaders several times in Europe to promote biotechnology and its benefits. United Soybean Board (USB) director and South Dakota soybean farmer Bob Metz is one of them.

Q: What is the outlook for global biotech soy demand?

A: Farmers in the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay grow 90 percent of the world’s exported soybeans and embrace biotechnology as the future of farming to feed the rest of the world. China and Southeast Asia, the largest importers of biotech soybeans, have adopted biotechnology. Europeans produce less than five percent of their own protein needs so hopefully they will as well.

Q: What are the benefits of biotech soy?

A: The meat and poultry farmers in Europe understand the benefits of biotechnology, so a majority of animal feed in the EU is from imported biotech products. Ninety percent of soybeans produced in the world are biotech, and with a devastating U.S. drought this year, biotech soybeans withstood extreme conditions and still performed well.

Q: Can U.S. farmers meet the EU’s demands for non-biotech soybeans?

A: We could grow identity preserved (IP) soybeans, but they’ll cost the customer more. Without chemicals to eliminate weeds and enhance crop growth, the fields require more manual labor. Cleaning the auger and combine, so IP seeds don’t mix with biotech seeds, requires extra time and effort. Farmers are business people and producing biotech crops contributes to higher yields and increased profit.

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