CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Representatives from more than a dozen countries met to find solutions to the global agricultural biotechnology development and commercialization logjam.

More than 200 biotechnology regulators, government officials, industry and organization representatives, international trade experts and farmers from 13 counties attended the first Illinois Soybean Association-hosted International Biotechnology Symposium.

“We know today that biotechnology companies will have dozens of new transgenic events with the potential to increase crop yields and quality that will be ready for registration by 2015,” Bill Wykes of Yorkville, the association’s immediate past president, said to open the event. “Unfortunately, we lack a uniform science-based system for securing approval of this new technology on an international scale.”

“Everyone gathered here today has important insight into the future of agricultural biotechnology. You are experts in the field of science, trade, regulations and farming and come from all corners of the globe,” he said. “Each of you has a unique perspective to share, and because of that I believe we can reach concrete conclusions and next steps for eliminating the bottleneck in the biotech approval process.”

Wykes added that the soybean association, its partners, sponsors of the event and others are dedicated to the future development of biotechnology as a way to meet the demand of a growing global population.

“As an organization of farmers, we are committed to constant development of new technologies,” he said. “We are eager to implement new developments that can increase the quality of our crops, the efficiency of our production, the sustainability of our practices, and provide food security for our customers around the world.”

The event featured various panel discussions. The international biotech panel, comprised of industry representatives, reviewed the current pipeline of biotech traits entering the market and emphasized the importance of an improved regulatory process.

A second panel discussed the reality of the regulatory situation, offering personal experiences with regulatory approval, as well as insights on what changes need to happen.

The afternoon session included a panel of farmers from around the world providing their views on the importance of biotechnology and their ability to meet the critical challenge of feeding two billion more people by 2050.

International export and import representatives noted the impact of biotechnology regulation on their business and the industry as a whole.

“Biotech crops mean food security for many countries around the world, yet today’s biotechnology approval process is susceptible to international politics, making it volatile and inefficient,” Wykes said. “We need a global, cohesive, science-based regulatory system so farmers can produce more food and nations can enjoy food security.”