5 January 1996

New tech must be used to feed world, says USA

By Tony McDougal

GROWTH promoting hormones in livestock and genetically-modified agricultural materials must be used to feed the worlds increasing population.

In his paper to the 50th Oxford Farming Conference, US agriculture under-secretary, Eugene Moos, said it was vital the main agricultural players, including Europe, used the latest technology to boost production yields.

The European Commissions ban on hormones in the late 1980s has infuriated Washington, which would like to see EU legislation bound by scientific analysis rather than consumer demand.

Mr Moos said that though the US was pleased with the greater access to world markets after the GATT deal, there were still areas of distortion, notably plant health.

"For example, sanitary and phyto-sanitary restrictions have become an area of increasing concern. We certainly understand importers desire for safe foods, and we want to continue working with trading partners to address these concerns.

"But we want to ensure that all import restrictions are based on sound science, do not unduly restrict trade and are applied in a non-discriminatory fashion."

Commenting on the state of US farming, Mr Moos, who stood in at the last minute for the US agriculture secretary, Dan Glickman, said agriculture remained the nations number one industry.

Mr Moos revealed the latest US agricultural export figures, which show an estimated $54bn (£36bn) was exported last year, compared with $43bn (£29bn) in 1994.

Mr Moos was also optimistic that the completion of the Uruguay round could increase global income by $5.25 trillion over the next decade as long as protectionism was held at bay.

Demand for less suppport

Commenting on the USAs leading trade priorities, Mr Moos said that the US was keen to ease the current tight world supply and demand situation. But he admitted there was a growing demand among taxpayers in both the US and EU for less government support for agriculture.

The move towards more market-orientated reforms in the US will continue after the approval of the US Farm Bill in October, which aims to cut total farm spending by $15bn (£10bn).

&#8226 NFU deputy president, Ben Gill called for greater commitment from government to support the UKs agricultural and biotechnological research industry. &#42

After the big freeze came the big thaw. Flood water from the Chicheley brook inundated wheat land farmed by Richard Brown, Church farm, Stagesden, Newport Pagnell. Turn to page 8 to find out how farmers throughout Britain have been affected by the weather.