Farmer leaders from the American Soybean Association (ASA), the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the National Cotton Council (NCC) recently met in Chicago to recognize the planting of the one-billionth acre of biotech-enhanced agricultural commodities.

Representatives from Truth About Trade and Technology (TATT) were also on hand to talk about an acreage counter that is being used to track the planting of biotech acres around the world.

"U.S. farmers are adopting biotechnology because they recognize the safety, benefits and potential of biotechnology," said Darrin Ihnen, a South Dakota farmer who serves as Chairman of NCGA’s Biotechnology Working Group. "As a farmer, it’s important that I find ways to become more efficient in my operation. Biotechnology helps reduce the amount of insecticides and herbicides I use."

Biotechnology also results in less soil erosion, less fuel emissions and less herbicide carryover, which provides for healthier groundwater, rivers and streams.

"The one billionth acre of biotech crops has been planted and I’m thrilled that we are acknowledging this milestone," states Dean Kleckner, an Iowa farmer and chairman of TATT. "The astonishing speed with which farmers from around the world have adopted this technology is significant."

Given the world’s growing population, the United Nations Population Fund reports that farmers will have to produce about 75 percent more food per acre by 2020 to meet anticipated demand.

"Farmers are both producers and consumers of the food and fiber that comes from our farms," said Neal Bredehoeft, a Missouri farmer who serves as ASA President. "This dual position helps us recognize that biotechnology is another in a long line of advancements that have helped make our supply of food and fiber the safest and healthiest in the world."

Globally, 6 percent of canola, 11 percent of cotton, 23 percent of corn and 60 percent of soybeans are grown from biotech-enhanced seedstock.

“I'm looking forward to the next generation of biotech products' traits to enhance fiber quality, improve food safety, impart stress tolerance to plants and allow plants to grow in saline soils,” said Craig Shook, a Texas cotton producer who serves as NCC secretary-treasurer.