With the population expected to reach 9.1 billion people by 2050, agriculture needs access to new tools and technologies to meet the needs of a growing global population. Delays in approvals of new biotech-enhanced soybean traits threaten farmers’ ability to grow food and the food security of soy importing countries.

These delays also negatively impact soybean supply, price and quality, costing the entire soy value chain billions.

Research from the University of Missouri shows that when new soybean traits are approved and commercialized in a timely fashion, the economic benefits from their adoption could be as high as $40 billion in the 10-year period the study analyzed. The report showed a three-year postponement in global approval of biotech enhanced soybean traits any time in the next 10 years would cost farmers and consumers a total of nearly $19 billion worldwide, compared with typical approval timelines.

“If new traits are delayed in reaching the market, however, not only are the economic benefits reduced, but their distribution can be changed as well,” says Dr. Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, University of Missouri. “Consumers lose a disproportionate share of the welfare gains from innovation as the commercialization of the new soybean varieties is delayed.”

“Soy is part of the global marketplace and the beans U.S. farmers grow create a secondary economy of jobs, both in the U.S. and with our global export partners,” says Todd Gibson, U.S. Soybean Export Council and United Soybean Board director and a soybean farmer from Norborne, Mo. “That’s why it’s crucial we work with our global partners toward timely international approvals for new biotech traits and ensure a system that works for the entire global soy value chain.”

Regulatory delays have real costs and reduce farmers’ ability to supply abundant, affordable food. Regulatory delays could affect farmers by increasing weed-control costs but also impact consumers by causing soy supply challenges and higher prices. Delays in trait approval could also lead to food security issues in terms of both quantity and nutritional content of food because approval of new traits helps provide a steady supply of soy, which is a key component in livestock feeds that provide animal protein to consumers.

“U.S. farmers and the global soy value chain can and must help feed the growing population,” says Gibson. “To meet this global demand, timely, science-based approvals are crucial, which is why the International Soybean Growers Alliance, a group made up of farmer leaders from the United States and South American countries, has been working with farmer leaders and government officials with other countries to discuss the cost of trait approval delays. We will continue to work collaboratively to inform regulators and influencers of the value of biotech traits and their timely approval.”