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Chair Jim Costa Opening Statement at Hearing on “Agricultural Biotechnology: 21st Century Advancements and Applications"

WASHINGTON Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chair Jim Costa delivered the following statement at today's joint hearing “Agricultural Biotechnology: 21st Century Advancements and Applications".

[As prepared for delivery]

Good Morning. To start I’d like to thank our witnesses, Chairwoman Plaskett, Ranking members Johnson and Baird and the other members of the Subcommittees. Agricultural biotechnology is a critical subject with lots of potential for solving some of our most pressing issues. Through opening trade, investing in research, and streamlining our regulatory system we can help facilitate the use of biotechnology to address threats like food scarcity and climate change. Throughout history farmers have searched for ways to optimize their livestock and crop production through selecting for the most favorable traits. Over the past few decades scientific advancement has given us an opportunity to safely grow more sustainable food at a faster rate. It is incumbent upon us as policy makers to understand how technological advancement can benefit our food system and create new avenues for promoting the use of biotechnology in novel settings.

Just this year we have seen staggering drought as a result of climate change. Being from California I am very familiar with the consequences of extreme drought and I am always interested in innovative solutions. In their testimony some of our witnesses will discuss the potential for biotechnological advancements to help address the effects of climate change, specifically through optimizing water use. While I believe we must address the underlying problems that are causing climate change, it is also necessary for us to begin to adapt to changing climate conditions. I look forward to hearing more from our experts on how biotechnology can be used to address climate change and what sorts of innovations are on the horizon that may help us create a more sustainable, less water intensive agricultural system.

Another challenge where I believe biotechnology has a significant role to play is food security. Both at home and abroad changing climate conditions, the economic impacts of the pandemic, and growing populations are straining our food system. While not a silver bullet, biotechnology is an important tool that can help our food system increase its resilience to a changing world. For many years I have worked closely with our international food assistance programs and I believe that if farmers have access to innovation and sound information, they’ll be able to reduce hunger around the world.

An important aspect of progress in agricultural biotechnology is acceptance by consumers both domestically and abroad. We have a stringent regulatory process that does an exceptional job of guaranteeing the safety of any product created using biotechnology. Trust in those systems is vital to ensuring that we can realize the benefits that biotechnology has to offer. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on how they believe we can increase the acceptance of these products in foreign markets.

We have before us four experts in their fields that bring a wealth of knowledge on biotechnology in agriculture. Their testimony will provide us with important information about the various applications for biotechnology and what needs to be done to catalyze innovation. Before the introduction of our witnesses, I’d like to recognize the Ranking Member, Mr. Johnson of South Dakota, for any remarks he’d like to make.

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