GENET archive


7-Business: "Arrogance of US exporters and some domestic farm organizations" ruins US farmers

----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------

TITLE:  Corn growers question need to sacrifice export markets due
        to genetically modified crops
SOURCE: American Corn Growers Association, press release
DATE:   March 13, 2000

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Corn and Soybean Exports Drop Considerably From Year-Ago Levels As 
Losses Stand At Over One Billion Dollars

WASHINGTON, DCÉ.March 13, 2000---Because of overseas resistance to 
genetically modified (GMO) crops, U.S. farmers are losing overseas 
markets. Brazil and China have both benefited from certified non-GMO 
shipments, while American farmers lose over one billion dollars in 

"American farmers are facing historically low prices because of 
overproduction. Yet U.S. grain exporters continue to insist that GMOs 
be sold despite the desire by overseas customers for non-GMO 
products,Ó said Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of the 
American Corn Growers Association (ACGA). "Instead of giving the 
customer what they want, the attitude and arrogance of US exporters 
and some domestic farm organizations is forcing overseas buyers to 
turn their backs on U.S. corn and soybeans.

In marketing year 1997-1998, corn exports to Europe stood at 2 
million tons. In marketing year 1998-1999, those same exports dropped 
to 137,000 tons. Soybeans dropped from 11 million tons in 1998 to 6 
million tones last year.

"As a result of exporter arrogance to ship GMOs, American farmers 
have lost over one billion dollars in lost sales. The only winners 
are U.S. grain export competitors who are picking up our former 
customers,Ó added Goldberg. "And remember, multinational exporters 
never lose a sale, they just export from our foreign competitorŐs 

French grocer Carrefour recently agreed to purchase 180,000 metric 
tons of non-GMO certified soybeans from Brazil in order to feed their 
livestock supplierŐs non-GMO fodder. South Korea purchased over 4 
million bushels of certified non-GMO corn from China. This is in 
addition to most European and Asian customers who are refusing to 
purchase American crops because of the lack of certified non-GMO 

Instead of being responsive to the wishes of US foreign customers, 
the grain industry, from grain elevators to shippers to the US Grains 
Council, insists that GMOs are safe and should be marketed. Instead 
of accepting the fact that the customer is always right and deserves 
to receive whatever they demand, domestic supporters of GMOs are 
costing American farmers important markets for our surplus. That puts 
downward pressure on corn prices.

It is time that domestic farm organizations, check-off promotion 
boards and grain shippers take a more neutral stance on the issue of 
biotechnology. Whether the United States believes the products to be 
safe or environmentally friendly isnŐt the issue. The issue is what 
the foreign and domestic customer ask for. Frito-Lay, SeagramŐs, 
Gerber and Heinz baby foods, IAMS pet foods, and Wild Oats and Whole 
Foods Markets have all responded to customer demands.

"U.S. farmers donŐt care whether we sell GMO or non-GMO crops to 
foreign customers. Why should the grain trade care as well? The big 
loser in this fight to save the biotechnology industry is domestic 
grain producers who are seeing their exports drop to next to nothing. 
The Freedom to Farm legislation said grow for the market. The market 
is demanding non-GMOs. Why isnŐt the grain trade listening? They 
forced this farm law onto U.S. farmers, now those same grain traders 
are killing our export market. WhatŐs wrong with this picture?Ó added 

"Many members of the ACGA would like to have the opportunity to plant 
GMOs in the future as part of their farming options. However, they 
will not grow a product they cannot sell because of the uncertainty 
over marketability. That is why GMO planted acres will drop by 16% 
according to a recent ACGA survey. Farmers who are turning their 
backs on GMOs are responding to customer concerns. Now it is time for 
exporters to do the same,Ó concluded Goldberg.


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