Coming Together on LLP
Following two intergovernmental meetings a declaration of an “International Statement on Low Level Presence” has now been endorsed by 13 countries, including Canada and the United States. The EU is missing from the list of signatories. The declaration, which has been published on several government websites, states in part that “there is an immediate need to address the risk to trade arising from LLP occurrences, a risk that impacts importing and exporting countries alike, and global food security in general … Recognizing the need for action, we, importing and exporting countries, have decided to discuss the issue of LLP; exchange information on its origin and potential implications on the agricultural trading system; and begin the development of an approach or set of approaches to manage LLP internationally … Therefore, we, importing and exporting countries, have decided to work collaboratively on the issue of LLP to facilitate international trade of agriculture commodities by developing practical approaches, designed to address LLP globally … continue to work collaboratively to address the overarching problem of asynchronous approvals, while working to mitigate the impact of LLP situations … work collaboratively to address the risk of trade disruptions resulting from LLP in order to facilitate international trade of agriculture commodities by developing an approach or approaches, designed to facilitate the management of LLP globally.”
The list of countries endorsing the “International Statement on Low Level Presence” are Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay, Philippines, Russia, United States, Uruguay and Vietnam.
Seed Industry Stable Despite Drought
“Despite the worst drought in America in 56 years, the seed industry is reaping the benefits of its considerable investments in science and technology,” said Andy LaVigne, president and CEO of the American Seed Trade Association, at the recent Corn, Sorghum and Soybean Seed Research Conference. “There is still concern about the challenges ahead—both man-made and from nature—but the bottom line is that these advances are contributing to more financial stability for American farmers and more food security around the world.” ASTA’s CSS and Seed Expo, held in Chicago at the beginning of December, was the largest in recent history with over 2,800 attendees and 150 exhibitors. LaVigne said seed breeders, growers and distributors, and seed equipment manufacturers at the event were optimistic about the future of the industry.
A Tastier Watermelon
“Watermelons are an important cash crop and among the top five most-consumed fresh fruits; however, cultivated watermelons have a very narrow genetic base, which presents a major bottleneck to its breeding. Decoding the complete genome of the watermelon and resequencing watermelons from different subspecies provided a wealth of information and toolkits to facilitate research and breeding,” says Zhangjun Fei, a scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell University, and one of the leaders of an international consortium of more than 60 scientists from the United States, China and Europe that published the genome sequence of watermelon. Fei says this information could dramatically accelerate watermelon breeding toward production of a more nutritious, tastier and more resistant fruit.
FAO: Proper Investment in Ag Critical
“A new investment strategy is needed that puts agricultural producers at its center,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in a statement for the release of the organization’s flagship annual report, The State of Food and Agriculture 2012. “The challenge is to focus the investments in areas where they can make a difference. This is important to guarantee that investments will result in high economic and social returns and environmental sustainability,” said da Silva. New data compiled for the report show that farmers in low- and middle-income countries invest more than $170 billion a year in their farms—about $150 per farmer. This is three times as much as all other sources of investment combined, four times more than contributions by the public sector, and more than 50 times more than official development assistance to these countries.
According to Bill McCutchen, executive associate director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, the southeast United States has the potential to become the “Saudi Arabia” for production of dedicated energy crops. “It’s the Bioenergy Belt,” said McCutchen at the recent Growing Texas Conference held in College Station, Texas. “Corn is not the way to grow our biofuels industry. What we are going to see is an emergence of cellulosic-based conversion facilities, and when this infrastructure is in place, we will see a new set of dedicated energy crops that will complement food and fiber crops. We are starting to see the deployment of cellulosic and biomass conversion facilities for biofuels being put into place.”
Syngenta Becomes Canada’s Newest Canola Seed Player
“This is an exceptional time to be in the canola seed market given the extent of breeding and varietal development activities going on across the country,” explains Dave Sippell, head of diverse field crops in North America for Syngenta. “Our approach is to take advantage of the best that these activities have to offer, allowing us to collaborate with a variety of canola providers and breeders to select the germplasm and traits that will deliver the greatest benefit to growers, and commercialize the resulting varieties.”