To Russia with R&D

U.S. Sugarbeet Delegation Explores Biotech Development Overseas

Published in the January 2014 Issue Published online: Jan 10, 2014

To advance the global sugarbeet industry, representatives from the grower-supported American Sugarbeet Growers Association (ASGA) and Syngenta met with industry leaders during a weeklong trip in October to the U.K., Switzerland, Sweden and Russia. The trip helped solidify relationships with Russia and further the acceptance of biotechnology by other producing nations. This development could benefit consumers and growers around the globe.

During their visit, the group met with representatives from British Sugar to discuss the state of the industry in the EU. They also toured Syngenta facilities in Sweden and Switzerland, and met with Syngenta leadership and researchers to discuss future innovations for the sugarbeet industry across all geographies. At the Syngenta sugarbeet breeding and biotechnology facilities in Landskrona, Sweden, researchers showcased the process of genetic modification and the effectiveness of CruiserMaxx Sugarbeets insecticide/fungicide seed treatment combination of separately registered products in protecting against early season pests and improving crop stands.

“The day served as a great opportunity for the grower leaders to see the entire hybrid development process and they were impressed with the efforts Syngenta devotes to sugarbeet breeding,” said Jeff Pomeroy, sugarbeet crop portfolio head at Syngenta. “Of particular interest was the size and breadth of the seed collection, novel approaches to seed quality and the professionalism and dedication of the staff.”

The Russian sugar industry representatives also met with the visiting U.S. group to discuss the current state of the sugarbeet industry in Russia and Europe, and what lies ahead. The group included representatives from British Sugar, Agroholdings (Russia), Union of Sugar Manufacturers and the Association of Sugar Producers of Countries of the Customs Union.

“The Russian sugarbeet industry showed a lot of interest in using biotechnology and other crop solutions we employ in North America,” Pomeroy said. “They realize that Russia has the potential to greatly improve their sugarbeet production.”

Kelly Erickson, a sugarbeet farmer from Hallock, Minn., and president of the ASGA noted, “U.S. growers have been the global leaders in using biotechnology in sugarbeets for the past seven years. The sugar produced from biotech sugarbeets is the same as produced from conventional or organic sugarbeets or cane. The sugarbeet plants are stronger, healthier and more productive, while providing many environmental benefits. Consumers and environmentalists should be encouraging sugarbeet farmers around the world to rapidly adopt this technology to provide both food security and greater environmental stewardship than is possible using conventional methods of production.”