ASA Illinois Director Ron Moore and CEO Steve Censky, along with President Ray Gaesser of Iowa spoke with more than 100 farmers, researchers, leaders of agricultural organizations and federal officials yesterday in Washington, in a discussion of the worldwide benefits of agricultural biotechnology.The first-ever D.C. Biotechnology Roundtable, presented jointly by the Illinois Soybean Association and ASA, focused on a discussion of the acceleration of government approval of biotech seed for soybeans and other crops.Moore took part in a three-farmer panel on on-farm biotech use in the soybean, wheat and corn. Also on the panel were representatives from the National Corn Growers Association and the National Association of Wheat Growers.Censky joined Michael Hawkins of the Embassy of Canada in Washington to discuss the approach to biotechnology issues from like-minded countries including the U.S. and Canada, and stressed the strong cooperation of our two countries in this effort.In addition, Ambassador Darci Vetter, chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative delivered the keynote address, and other regulatory speakers included EPA’s Dan Kenny, USDA-APHIS’ Michael Firko, U. S. Department of Agriculture, and Jack Bobo, U.S. Department of State. Additional speakers included David Zilberman, University of California-Berkeley, Jim Sutter, U.S. Soybean Export Council, MAIZALL’s Floyd Gaibler and Gary Martin of the North American Grain Exporters Association. Firko talked about the progress USDA is making in clearing the backlog of approval of new biotechnology designed to help crops withstand pests, disease and harsh climate and to use crop nutrients more efficiently.Zilberman said that approvals for new biotechnology traits for soybean seed can take 10-15 years, pushing costs as high as $160 million to commercialize new biotechnology.Robert Paarlberg, renowned author and advisor to numerous food and agricultural organizations worldwide, reiterated the proven safety of biotechnology. A professor of political science at Wellesley College and public policy at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Paarlberg observed that opposition to biotechnology comes from environmental and anti-globalization groups in more affluent countries, particularly the European Union. He said the current state of worldwide regulation deprives people of food by preventing use of biotechnology by farmers in poorer countries who are growing food crops such as wheat, rice and potatoes, and making the technology available only to farmers in affluent countries, such as the United States, who raise biotech crops, such as soybeans and corn for livestock feed.While hosted by ISA and ASA, the meeting was sponsored by DuPont Pioneer, Monsanto, the New York Corn & Soybean Association, U.S. Soybean Export Council, FLM+, Indiana Soybean Alliance, National Association of Wheat Growers, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, National Corn Growers Association, Dow AgroSciences and Ohio Soybean Council.