October 14-15, 2008 – Des Moines, Iowa USA

Participants:

Moderator – Dr. Robert Thompson, Gardner Chair in Agricultural Policy, Univ. of Illinois

Argentina – Enrique Duhau
Australia – Jeff Bidstrup
Brazil – Sergio Bortolozzo
Canada – Cherilyn Jolly-Nagel
Colombia – Angela Cabal Barona
Czech Republic – Stepan Cizek
Germany – Oliver Ransmann
Honduras – Roger Padilla
Hungary – Csaba Machaty
India – Mekala Velangan Reddy
Ireland – Jim McCarthy (Transcript / Audio)
Italy – Giuseppe Elias
Kenya – Alfred Nderitu
Mexico – Ruben Chavez
Portugal – Gabriela Cruz
Romania – Valentin Petrosu
Spain – Jose Romeo Martin
Uganda – Bruno Matovu
United States:

North Dakota – Al Skogen
Iowa – Bill Horan, Dean Kleckner

Despite their differences in culture, crops raised and language, 20 farmers representing six continents agreed they must work together to break the barriers that stop their access to technology. The farmers discussed their ideas during a two-day Global Farmer Roundtable held in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

The 2008 Roundtable met October 14-15 and was the third time the event has been held. It was organized by Truth about Trade and Technology, an NGO that promotes free trade and agricultural biotechnology through farmer-led educational initiatives. It coincided with the World Food Prize Symposium and Dr. Norman Borlaug Dialogue.

The World Food Prize Symposium allowed global leaders to discuss issues that “impact food production, food security, the environment, and global development over the long-term,” said Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. The Roundtable focused on short-term issues that would make a difference for farmers in the next 5-10 years.

One of those issues, the farmers said, is access to GM crops. Not all farmers at the Roundtable have access because misinformation has put political barriers into place.

The group was inspired to form coalitions and actively challenge bans after hearing the story of Jeff Bidstrup, a Queensland, Australia farmer who was named this year’s recipient of the Kleckner Trade & Technology Advancement Award. The award honors a farmer for “exemplary leadership, vision and resolve in advancing the rights of all farmers to choose the technology and tools that will improve the quality, quantity and availability of agricultural products around the world”.

Bidstrup was successfully using GM cotton to overcome pest problems, but then anti-GM activists struck his country. Within a matter of weeks, five of the six Australian states banned GM food crops.

Bidstrup and other farmers organized a coalition of livestock and grain farmers who work to educate Australians about the benefits of biotechnology and to repeal moratoriums based on ignorance. Over the course of three years, they succeeded in persuading the governments of New South Wales and Victoria to lift their bans, which now allows farmers in three of the country’s states to use GM crops.
The farmers also shared ideas for better use of precision agriculture, information technology, and crop inputs.

The Roundtable was moderated by Robert Thompson, Gardner Chair in Agricultural Policy at the University of Illinois. Dr. Pedro Sanchez, 2002 World Food Prize Laureate also joined the group as a guest moderator during a portion of the meeting.

Additionally, TATT was extremely pleased to have Global Roundtable participant Jim McCarthy (Ireland) invited to sit on a panel for The 2008 Borlaug Dialogue at The World Food Prize Symposium – “Conversation: Trends & Impacts of Rising Agricultural Production Costs & Rising Food Prizes” – with several other distinguished individuals. Robert Thompson also moderated the panel. Links to download the transcript, audio file, or PowerPoint presentation of the discussion are located above in the list of names (by Jim McCarthy) or on the World Food Prize website.

An overview of the discussion at the roundtable is available. Read the Whitepaper: Technology Access: Discussions Set Path for Advancing Farmer Interests