Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today spoke before the House Committee on Agriculture on issues critically important to U.S. agriculture.

Below are Secretary Vilsack's remarks as prepared for delivery:

"Chairman Lucas, thank you and thank you to Rep. Peterson and members of the Committee for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss an important topic to American agriculture — the complex issues surrounding biotechnology and USDA’s role in regulating it.   

"Today’s meeting considers a topic that is critically important to U.S. agriculture. Over the last two decades, we have experienced the rapid development, and the widespread adoption by producers, of new technologies like biotechnology. Biotechnology has already delivered significant benefits to farmers and consumers and it holds tremendous promise for agriculture here in the United States, and around the world. Over the past 20 years, due to improved plant breeding practices and biotechnology, yields have increased and new varieties are being developed that will resist pests and drought, and reduce the amount of water and fertilizer needed to raise a crop. Recognizing the benefits of these products, today, more farmers are planting biotech varieties of crops. We believe that biotechnology stands to play a significant role in our effort to support our drive toward energy independence, conserve our natural resources, and meet the world’s growing demand for food, feed, fiber, and fuel.

"At the same time, there has also been strong growth in the organic sector, and in non-genetically engineered production, all to meet the requirements of specific and expanding markets.

"The growth of all these sectors is great for U.S. agriculture. It means farmers, ranchers, and growers have a range of ways to meet consumer needs and preferences both here and around the world. It means they can grow their operations in the way best for their operation while contributing to the success and vitality of rural America.