The NCC joined members of the Ag Biotech Planning Committee (ABPC) in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack expressing concern about the directions concerning co-existence and compensation given to the recently reconstituted Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21).

The letter stated, “As a coalition representing all major parts of the agriculture value chain and a large majority of U.S. production agriculture, ABPC has a strong interest in the continued coexistence of different cropping systems to facilitate grower and consumer choice without undermining the exceptional record of innovation, productivity, and product stewardship in U.S. agriculture. We are writing to comment on the specific charge given to the committee — to recommend an appropriate compensation mechanism, if any, to address economic loss to growers from unintended presence of biotech materials — and offer suggestions on how the work of AC21, and the broader debate over the coexistence of commercialized biotech and non-biotech agricultural products, can remain constructive.”

The ABPC recommended that USDA and AC21: (1) maintain a balanced perspective on the contribution of production agriculture to the US economy, the history of different agricultural production practices, and the interest in continued access to scientifically sound and safe technologies; (2) USDA reaffirm its commitment to evidence-based policymaking and adequate opportunity for public notification and comment; (3) seek input from all sources with appropriate expertise; and, (4) avoid neglecting topics that offer the most promise for facilitating coexistence. The letter concluded by stating that it is ABPC’s opinion that developing a compensation mechanism “will not deter or prevent lawsuits from being filed as USDA assesses and approves new biotechnology traits.”

The letter also was signed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Seed Trade Assoc., American Soybean Assoc., American Sugarbeet Growers Assoc., Agricultural Retailers Assoc., Biotechnology Industry Organization, Corn Refiners Assoc., Grocery Manufacturers Assoc., National Assoc. of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Assoc., National Grain and Feed Assoc., National Oilseed Processors Assoc. and North American Millers Assoc.