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Record Crowd at Sweetener Colloquium Considers Future of GMO Beets, 2012 Farm Bill and More

Feb 23, 2011

Contact: Marti Pupillo

(202) 220-3535

(Washington, D.C. - February 23, 2011) The future for genetically modified sugar beets, U.S. sugar policy and the 2012 Farm Bill were just a few of the topics covered at this year's International Sweetener Colloquium, February 13-16, at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, Calif. With record-breaking attendance, the 2011 Sweetener Colloquium drew more than 450 industry professionals, making it the largest annual gathering in nearly a decade.

Hosted by the International Dairy Foods Association and the Sweetener Users Association, the event addressed the sweetener industry's latest challenges, obstacles and opportunities with presentations from a wide range of speakers, including government officials, industry executives, journalists and academics.

Keynote Considers Roundup Ready Sugar Beets

The keynote presentation focused on how the industry is moving forward with Roundup Ready sugar beets. Two representatives from Monsanto Company, which owns the technology for producing the GMO seeds, provided an update on the regulatory and legal challenges surrounding the growth and use of the sugar beets. Approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2005 and widely adopted by U.S. growers, Roundup Ready sugar beets are currently the subject of litigation in federal court, as well as a USDA study that aims to measure their environmental impact.

The speakers from Monsanto were Raymond Dobert, U.S. regulatory policy director, and Ty Witten, global cotton and specialty regulatory affairs lead. Although they acknowledged that considerable uncertainty remains, Dobert and Witten expressed confidence that adequate seeds would be available for planting both this year and into 2012. The full environmental impact assessment by USDA, however, will have huge implications for the domestic sugar and food industries, they said, depending on the outcome. Sugar supplies, which are already squeezed by restrictive trade policies, would be significantly pressured without the use of GMO sugar beets.

The outlook for U.S. sugar policy, especially in the lead-up to the 2012 Farm Bill, was another topic that garnered great interest. Several panelists agreed that the influx of fresh faces to Congress, coupled with rising food and commodity prices, will likely encourage a more robust debate on the current sugar program during farm bill discussions.

Other topics covered at the four-day event include sugar's position in national nutrition discussions, biofuels, corn and alternative sweeteners, U.S. and international market outlooks, and industry relations with Mexico.

"The sweetener industry is facing a variety of legislative, regulatory and legal challenges today, and this year's record turnout certainly demonstrates our need for positive, effective solutions in each of these areas," said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president. "Each year this meeting provides a critical forum for all participants in the sweetener industry, and we're certain that trend will continue through the 2012 Farm Bill and years beyond."

IDFA, SUA Thank Sponsors

IDFA and SUA would like to thank this year's sponsors: Amalgamated Sugar, Corn Products, CSC Sugar, Domino Sugar, ED&F Man, ICE Futures, Imperial Sugar and Sweetener Supply Corporation. More information about these companies is available here.

The 2012 International Sweetener Colloquium will be held February 12-15 at The Waldorf Astoria Orlando, in Orlando, Fla. For more information, contact John Kelly, IDFA manager of international affairs, at (202) 220-3507 or

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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 550 companies representing a $110-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's 220 dairy processing members run more than 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85% of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States.


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