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Don't try to stop biotechnology

WENDELL, Minn. -- As a farmer, I was concerned when anti-technology activists convinced the liberal-leaning 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California to stop the planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa in the U.S. This technology had been long awaited...

WENDELL, Minn. -- As a farmer, I was concerned when anti-technology activists convinced the liberal-leaning 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California to stop the planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa in the U.S. This technology had been long awaited by alfalfa producers and others since the Roundup technology first was discovered. Roundup Ready varieties have the potential to enhance weed control while reducing cost and crop injury while increasing yield and benefiting soil conservation and the environment.

Misguidance

Now, these same misguided activists have attempted a similar stunt, aimed at obstructing the introduction of Roundup Ready sugar beet seed. This technology has the potential to truly revolutionize sugar beet production, again reducing cost, simplifying management and greatly increasing production, efficiency and competitiveness of our nation's sugar beet producers in a highly competitive global market.

Who are these people anyway? They hide behind misleading names such as The Center for Food Safety, The Sierra Club, The Organic Seed Alliance, and not to be forgotten, the Northern Plains Resource Council and its affiliates such as the Dakota Resource Council, many of which are closely aligned with the radical European based activist organization, Greenpeace, whose claims include successfully obstructing perfectly safe shipments of biotech crops from being delivered to starving nations.

In my opinion, these are all radical fringe groups driven by a misguided bias against a progressive American agriculture production system and its science-based regulatory process, which, by the way, is the best designed and most effective in the world. They defy progress and have a very slanted and dishonest agenda that appears to serve a very selfish purpose.

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It is so important, with the concerns of global terrorism and food scares, that we understand the value and can have confidence in our outstanding food production system in this great country. Unfortunately, these groups have used this time of uncertainty to prey on our emotions with accusations and mistruths to erode our trust in our superior food supply and our product approval process. We do not need our consumers unjustly confused about the safety and quality of our food chain.

Time for growth

It's time that we thank individuals, both in the corporate and public research arena, who safely and efficiently identify, develop and market new technologies that enhance our food production capability. And hats off to our regulatory system for being extremely thorough and sticking to science- based decision making.

My family and I farm in the southern Red River Valley. We have seen what biotech has

meant to corn and soybean production. It has meant solutions to pesky problems such as rootworm, corn borer and other devastating insects while increasing income. Many of these valuable traits already have unquestionably proven their value, all the way to the consumer. These benefits include fewer herbicide and insecticide applications, less fuel consumption, increased soil conservation and higher-quality grain because of less stress.

Sugar beets have been considered a minor crop because of smaller acreage than corn, soybeans and other crops. It has been unattractive for companies to develop new crop protection products for this crop. Weed control is critical to good yields and production efficiency and Roundup Ready, a long-awaited breakthrough for this industry, is a real blessing.

Costs cut

by biotechnology

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Wyoming farmers, who were lucky enough to plant the seeds last year in a test program, were able to cut trips across their fields by more than half. Chemical costs dropped from $62 per acre to less than $20.

When all of the costs were totaled, they ranged from an average of $177 for the conventional sugar beets, compared with $87 for the Roundup Ready.

This lowers food costs, makes American farmers highly competitive and positively impacts the environment.

My hope for the future is that misguided, fraudulent activist groups wake up and decide to be truly part of progress for a safe, efficient and environmentally friendly system instead of the doomsday obstructionists who only prolong adoption of valuable technology advancements in this great country, for their own personal agendas.

Editor's Note: Kjesbo raises corn, beans, sugar beets and wheat near Wendell, Minn.

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