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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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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