Ambassador Perez Paladino,
State Secretary Botanoiu,
Distinguished members of the diplomatic corps,
Esteemed guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you today to this conference on agricultural sustainability. This is an important topic, and I believe your time investment today will prove to have been worthwhile. The impressive line-up of speakers will be enlightening.
Let me begin by noting that countries around the world, including the United States, are dedicating significant resources to developing strategies to ensure the sustainability of their agriculture.
It is no secret that common among their strategies are three principles that underpin a sustainable system:
— Profitability over the long term;
— Stewardship of land, air and water; and,
— Quality of life for farmers and their communities.
These principles are familiar to many of you here today, and to our farmers and those engaged in activities related to agriculture.
Technology is a common thread linking the three principles. For example, biotech crops allow for the use of minimal or no tillage, thus conserving soil, water and nutrients, which in turn helps maintain the quality of our rural environment.
We are all well aware of the rapid advances and near daily improvement in the tools available in agriculture. Over the past two decades these tools have enabled our producers to achieve tremendous advances in crop productivity. Crop yields have increased several fold.
Environmentally compatible production practices are increasingly becoming the norm globally. Costs of production overall have steadily declined. Consumers and our environment are reaping the benefits of technological advances that introduce greater efficiencies in agriculture.
In Romania, agricultural biotechnology has received a great deal of attention lately — some positive, some negative. However, everyone involved in this discussion globally — from environmental and consumer advocates, to scientists, farmers, and governments — agrees that the world’s growing population needs to be fed and clothed and that our global environment needs to be preserved in the process.
For the United States, the most effective tool introduced to our farmers since the “green revolution” of the 1970’s is agricultural biotechnology. Our producers recognize its value as another tool available to modern farmers as they pursue our collective global objectives to feed, cloth, and preserve our people and environment.
Biotechnology has enhanced our agricultural productivity, generated economic benefits for our producers, and enabled them to produce in an environmentally friendly manner.
Our consumers and our environment also reap the benefits of the technology through lower prices and reduced use of pesticides and herbicides.
In Romania, as in the United States, agriculture faces many challenges. Global climate change is bringing severe droughts, long periods with high temperatures, and excessive rainfall in localized areas, each causing extensive damage to crops and reducing productivity.
The resources available to agriculture, such as land, water, and soil nutrients, are become scarcer and more expensive; farmers are also facing competition for these resources from other uses, such as urban development and direct human consumption.
In order to produce more with less in a changing environment, Romanian producers, as well as American and other producers of the world, must become more innovative, willing to examine every tool and every technology available to ensure that productivity is increased in a sustainable manner.
Our guest speakers today have been invited to share with you their experience and knowledge on today’s theme – agricultural sustainability. I hope the information they provide will contribute to a more comprehensive view of agriculture and a better understanding of practices and technologies that can help Romanian agriculture to advance in equilibrium with its environment.
I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity presented to ask questions of the experts gathered here today.
Thank you for your attention and participation in today’s workshop.