The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 21, 2001

U.S. Promotes Biotechnology in APEC
U.S. Promotes Biotechnology in APEC

Benefits of Biotechnology. President Bush and other APEC Leaders joined today to confirm their support for the development of biotechnology to help feed growing populations and its safe use based on sound science. Biotechnology can help developing economies increase crop yields, while using fewer pesticides and less water than conventional methods.

Biotechnology Policy Dialogue: APEC Leaders today endorsed a U.S. proposal to establish a new High-Level Biotechnology Policy Dialogue. Most APEC economies are developing domestic regulatory, trade, and scientific policies to address the emerging field of agricultural biotechnology. The dialogue will allow policy-makers to exchange views and pursue cooperative activities on a wide range of issues relating to biotechnology development, regulations governing new products, implications for trade, and effective communications strategies.

APEC officials plan to hold the first session of the Biotechnology Dialogue in Mexico City in February 2002. The United States believes that the High-Level Policy Dialogue will help officials harness this new technology and capitalize on its benefits. The dialogue will also facilitate the discussion of those issues in other international fora.

Technical Assistance to Support Biotechnology: The APEC Leaders' Declaration calls for more capacity building activities to help member economies develop agricultural biotechnology. The Administration is already enhancing technical assistance to support agricultural biotechnology through a number of public and private sector programs. These efforts include:

-- A joint project by the USDA, the U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. and Chinese universities to establish "centers of excellence" in China to further capacity building and information exchange on best agricultural practices.

-- Programs to develop appropriate disease-resistant crops, such as the U.S.-Mexico project on genetic patterns of wheat viruses, which aims to improve wheat resistance to infection.

-- Programs to develop crops with enhanced nutritional value, such as a multi-nation project to develop staple crop varieties that contain significantly more nutrients to address the malnutrition that afflicts an estimated 3 billion people worldwide.

-- A public-private sector cooperative exchange program on food research focusing on state-of-the-art developments in agricultural biotechnology. An initial program, funded by the U.S. Trade Development Agency and the private sector, is being organized by the Danforth Research Center in St. Louis, Missouri, the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, and the U.S. National Center for APEC.

-- An exchange program for food safety and a public-private dialogue on biotechnology regulation, supported by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, with the assistance of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology and the U.S. National Center for APEC. This project will help build capacity in the region to formulate sound, science-based regulatory policies, in areas such as phytosanitary regulations, risk assessment, and testing and certification requirements, that will ensure the environmental and food safety of all food products.

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