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7-Business: GMO issues facing Indiana (USA) farmers in 2001



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TITLE:  GMO Issues Facing Indiana Farmers in 2001
SOURCE: Purdue University - Grain Quality Task Force, USA, Fact Sheet #46
        by R. L. Nielsen & D. E. Maier
        http://www.agcom.purdue.edu/AgCom/Pubs/GQ/GQ-46.pdf
DATE:   April 4, 2001

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


GMO Issues Facing Indiana Farmers in 2001

R.L. (Bob) Nielsen, Agronomy Department
Dirk E. Maier, Agricultural & Biological Engineering Department

The global debate over genetically modified organisms, specifically 
transgenic crop varieties, shows little evidence of quieting down. Whether 
you favor transgenic plant breeding or not, the short term effects on 
market acceptance for transgenic crops in general are impacting corn and 
soybean farmers directly. You only have to look at the uproar caused by the 
contamination of last year’s commercial corn and seed corn production by 
the Cry9C Bt transgene (approved for animal consumption and industrial use 
but not human consumption) to realize how quickly the global debate can hit 
home.

As Indiana farmers prepare for the 2001 growing season, what can they 
expect? Will there be any more unexpected obstacles regarding the 
acceptance of currently available transgenic crop varieties? What can 
farmers do to best minimize the transgenic market risk to their farming 
operations?

First of all, recognize that NONE of the currently available insect-
resistant or herbicide-tolerant corn or soybean varieties are CRITICAL for 
the success of Indiana farmers. European corn borer, the corn pest targeted 
by Bt corn hybrids, occurs infrequently enough and at sufficiently low 
levels that the use of Bt hybrids is not economical for most Indiana corn 
growing situations (Hyde et al. 1998). Such hybrids are best suited to 
extremely early or late corn plantings where the risk of injury from the 
corn borer is greatest.

The glyphosate tolerant soybean technology is a very handy weed control 
tool and often lowers total weed control costs, but cannot be considered 
critically important for the success of soybean production in Indiana. The 
same holds true for glyphosate tolerant and glufosinate tolerant corn 
hybrids.

Because these transgenic crop traits are not CRITICAL for the success of 
Indiana farmers, the choice of whether to grow them or not depends 
primarily on the farmer’s assessment of the uncertainty of market 
acceptance for such products and/or the available seed supply of 
alternative non-transgenic varieties.

What if a farmer elects not to use transgenic crop varieties but is 
concerned about the risk of contamination of his/her grain by transgenic 
grain? In other words, what are the possible means by which one can end up 
with transgenic grain interspersed with that produced from a non-transgenic 
variety?

[...]

Guidelines for Corn, 2001:

* Expect little or no economic benefit from planting approved Bt corn 
  varieties in Indiana.
* Make sure seed corn is certified "clean” for StarLink™ according to the 
  USDA test protocol. Obtain a written verification from the seed company.
* Avoid planting glyphosate tolerant corn.
  - Remember that glyphosate tolerant corn hybrids are approved only in the 
  U.S. and Japan, but not elsewhere around the globe. No quick test kits 
  currently exist for this transgene and no tolerance levels have been 
  established. Even though some grain buyers are assuring farmers that they 
  will purchase grain from these hybrids, farmers bear the sole risk for 
  rejection at the first point of sale should buying policies change at any 
  time in the future.
* Recognize that grain elevators would prefer not to accept any transgenic 
  corn that does not have full approval for the global market place and, 
  subsequently, may change their stance on acceptance of such grain this 
  fall.
  - Be aware that Monsanto has established a channeling program for 
    glyphosate tolerant corn. When buying glyphosate tolerant corn seed, 
    farmers commit in writing to market the grain from these hybrids only 
    through approved channels. We urge all farmers to live up to this 
    commitment!
  - Approved channels include over 2,000 U.S. elevators that are willing to 
    buy non-EU-approved grains. The American Seed Trade Association 
    maintains an online database of "… grain handling facilities that have
    indicated a willingness to purchase, receive, and handle genetically
    enhanced corn products that have full U.S. registration for food and
    feed use, but are not yet approved for import into the European Union.”
    The Web address for the ASTA database is http:// asta.farmprogress.com/.
* Recognize that grain processors have urged producers only to plant 
  varieties that have full approval for the global market place and, 
  subsequently, will probably not accept any transgenic corn this fall.
  - Be aware that Monsanto, as part of their channeling program, is also 
    establishing a database of every farmer who purchases glyphosate 
    tolerant corn seed. Although they have committed not to reveal names
    and addresses, they will work with any inquiring processor and reveal
    to them how many acres of glyphosate tolerant cornwere planted in the
    regions from where they plan to purchase corn. In any region that a
    processor raises concern, Monsanto will contact those farmers and remind
    them to market their corn only through approved channels after harvest.
    We urge processors to inquire about glyphosate tolerant acres and urge
    all farmers to comply with the channeling program!

Guidelines for Soybean, 2001:

* Non-transgenic soybean seed supplies are limited.
* Some grain buyers have specialty contracts for non-transgenic soybeans.
* Grain buyers and processors will be buying glyphosate tolerant soybeans.
* Foreign buyers have been buying and appear to continue to be willing to 
  buy glyphosate tolerant soybeans (and meal).

[...]



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