The House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture convened to discuss the benefits of agricultural biotechnology products.

Ranking Member Costa, D-Calif., initiated the hearing, noting that it is critical for the United States to continue the food supply increase.

Testifying were: Charles Conner, president/CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; Roger Beachy, president emeritus of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center; and Calestous Juma, professor of the Practice of International Development and director of the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project at Harvard Kennedy School. According to their testimony, biotechnology is exactly the solution to the future food supply needs.

Conner stated that in 2010, 93 percent of all US cotton was a biotech variety and that cotton yields have increased by 33 percent since the introduction of biotechnology.

“The question is how to enable biotech to move forward to meet the needs of the future,” Conner said, referring to estimates that the global population will increase to 9.3 billion by the end of the century.

Beachy said biotechnology provides “sustainability that is quantifiable by science.”

When Rep. Hartzler, Mo., asked Beachy whether or not biotech crops are any less safe than conventional crops, he replied, “no” and added, “there have been no critical studies that have any scientific consensus around them.”

Discussing the global hurdles of biotechnology, Juma testified that in order for African countries to start planting biotech crops, “we need to expand trade links between U.S. and African countries.” He also said Africans need to get actively involved in agricultural and biotechnology research.