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POLICY & REGULATION: New requirements aim to improve Bt corn refuge compliance in the USA



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   NEW REQUIREMENTS AIM TO IMPROVE BT CORN REFUGE COMPLIANCE

SOURCE:  National Corn Growers Association, USA (NCGA)

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.ncga.com/new-requirements-aim-improve-bt-corn-refuge-compliance

DATE:    07.02.2011

SUMMARY: "In an effort to improve Bt corn refuge compliance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandated new requirements as part of the Bt corn re-registration process this past fall. [...] Under the Compliance Assurance Program, thousands of growers are surveyed about their IRM compliance practices each year through EPA mandated on-farm assessments. Growers who do not comply with refuge requirements can lose access to the technology."

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NEW REQUIREMENTS AIM TO IMPROVE BT CORN REFUGE COMPLIANCE

ST. LOUIS (February 7, 2011) ? In an effort to improve Bt corn refuge compliance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated new requirements as part of the Bt corn re-registration process this past fall. The Bt corn registrants are incorporating these new requirements (outlined below) into their Compliance Assurance Programs for the 2011 growing season:

- On-farm refuge compliance assessments will be conducted by an independent third-party and will be focused on (i) areas of highest risk of insect pest resistance development and (ii) growers who did not buy sufficient refuge seed from the Bt corn registrant.

- Growers found to be out of compliance with the refuge requirements (i) now have a higher probability of losing access to Bt corn if compliance is not established and maintained and (ii) will be checked more frequently by the Bt corn registrants.

- Seed bag tags will better depict refuge size requirements

Under the Compliance Assurance Program, thousands of growers are surveyed about their IRM compliance practices each year through EPA mandated on-farm assessments. Growers who do not comply with refuge requirements can lose access to the technology. Similarly, seed dealers who do not follow through on their commitments stand to lose the ability to sell the products.

?Biotechnology is an important part of modern agriculture?s ability to sustainably meet the worlds increasing demands for food, feed and fuel,? said Chad Blindauer, Chair of the National Corn Growers Association?s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. ?Given the benefits of Bt products, farmers and trait providers have a duty to ensure proper stewardship to keep this technology viable and on the market.?

IRM Compliance Remains Stable in 2010

The Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee (ABSTC), a consortium of Bt corn registrants, today reported that corn IRM compliance for the 2010 growing season remained unchanged from 2009. The ABSTC also reports that the compliance assurance programs for corn borer-protected, corn rootworm-protected, and corn borer/corn rootworm-protected stacked Bt corn continue to be effective. In 2010, the majority of growers surveyed planted the required size of refuge on their farms and the majority of growers surveyed planted a refuge within the required distance for all of their Bt corn fields. Furthermore, the survey indicates that the vast majority of all Bt corn fields have an associated refuge. These findings are similar to those in the surveys conducted over the previous three years. Today, growers have more product choices offering unique IRM requirements which can complicate refuge planning. It is encouraging to see compliance results stabilizing, but there is 
 room for improvement. The ABSTC is optimistic that the Compliance Assurance Program enhancements, along with collaborative IRM education efforts will help growers understand the importance of following refuge requirements and provide direction on how to meet the minimum refuge requirements for each product.

?Since the introduction of biotech traits, the vast majority of corn growers have followed refuge requirements to help protect the efficacy of this important technology,? said Blindauer. ?All growers must follow these requirements to help preserve the long-term value of this technology.? The ABSTC submitted the results to the EPA as part of the 2010 Bt corn IRM Compliance Assurance Program (CAP) report, which includes an annual report of the compliance results and a summary of actions being taken by Bt registrants to promote and support IRM compliance for the upcoming growing season.

IRM Refuge Calculator Helps Growers Develop Plans for Refuge Compliance

As the 2011 planting season approaches, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) reminds Bt corn growers that the development of an IRM plan for their farm is an essential and required part of their planning process. In addition to information provided by seed dealers and the Bt trait providers, the NCGA has established a number of resources for growers developing IRM plans and a refuge strategy for their farm. NCGA recently launched a new IRM calculator to help clarify refuge system options and show growers how to execute the requirements properly. The IRM calculator was developed in collaboration with ABSTC companies to ensure that it reflected all Bt products available in the industry today. The IRM calculator is available at www.irmcalculator.com.

?In addition to protecting current technology, adherence to refuge requirements is important for the commercialization of next generation biotech traits,? said Blindauer. ?Future traits that build on today?s technology will only be successful if today?s technology remains effective.? Founded in 1957, the National Corn Growers Association represents 36,000 dues-paying corn farmers nationwide. NCGA and its 48 affiliated state organizations work together to create and increase opportunities for their members and their industry.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   COMPLIANCE WILL BE EMPHASIZED IN MODIFIED CORN

SOURCE:  The Argus Leader, USA

AUTHOR:  Cody Winchester

URL:     http://www.argusleader.com/article/20110212/NEWS/102120302/Compliance-will-emphasized-modified-corn?odyssey=nav|head

DATE:    12.02.2011

SUMMARY: "As farmers make plans for spring planting, the Environmental Protection Agency is ramping up efforts to make sure there is more compliance with management practices for popular varieties of genetically modified corn. The agency has introduced new guidelines for farmers who plant Bt corn, which carries a gene that expresses an insecticidal bacteria. Bt corn farmers are required to leave a portion of each field planted in non-Bt corn as a refuge for insects such as the corn rootworm. This helps prevent insect populations from developing resistance to the toxin."

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COMPLIANCE WILL BE EMPHASIZED IN MODIFIED CORN

As farmers make plans for spring planting, the Environmental Protection Agency is ramping up efforts to make sure there is more compliance with management practices for popular varieties of genetically modified corn.

The agency has introduced new guidelines for farmers who plant Bt corn, which carries a gene that expresses an insecticidal bacteria. Bt corn farmers are required to leave a portion of each field planted in non-Bt corn as a refuge for insects such as the corn rootworm. This helps prevent insect populations from developing resistance to the toxin.

Third-party monitors will focus compliance visits on areas that have the highest risk of resistance development and those where farmers aren?t buying sufficient amounts of refuge seed, according to the National Corn Growers Association. Scofflaws risk losing access to Bt corn. In addition, tags on seed bags will be changed to better explain the refuge rules.

?The EPA wanted to get better compliance numbers,? said Chad Blindauer, vice president of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.

Blindauer, who is also chairman of the National Corn Growers Association?s trade policy and biotechnology action team, said the level of compliance wasn?t bad, per se, just improvable.

?Part of what they?re doing is making it less of a random check,? he said. ?They?re going to target assessments in areas where either the farmer didn?t buy enough refuge corn or where the insect pressure is really high.?

Grower compliance with the refuge rules has been in decline since about 2006, when new seed varieties with added genes, or stacked traits, came onto the market, making planting more complex, said Mike Smith, the senior product stewardship manager at Pioneer Hi-Bred.

This year Pioneer introduced two varieties of ?refuge in a bag? - a blend of conventional and modified seed that makes planting simpler. Sales have exceeded expectations, company spokeswoman Sharyl Sauer said.

?We had planned for a 1 millionth unit launch, and we will exceed that,? she said.

Some 95 percent of South Dakota?s corn crop is genetically modified. While just 6 percent of the state?s planted corn last year carried the Bt trait solely, 60 percent had stacked traits that could include Bt, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture figures.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   EPA CRACKING DOWN ON BIOTECH CORN GROWERS

SOURCE:  The Des Moines Register, USA

AUTHOR:  Philip Brasher

URL:     http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2011/02/07/epa-cracking-down-on-biotech-corn-rules/

DATE:    07.02.2011

SUMMARY: "Federal regulators are stepping up enforcement of planting restrictions on corn that?s genetically engineered to resist insect pests. The rules are meant to ensure that pests don?t develop resistance to the toxin in the corn plants, but the Environmental Protection Agency has long struggled to get compliance to acceptable levels. Independent inspectors will check on farms where compliance is the lowest and where growers didn?t buy enough of the corn varieties they need to comply with the restrictions."

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EPA CRACKING DOWN ON BIOTECH CORN GROWERS

Federal regulators are stepping up enforcement of planting restrictions on corn that?s genetically engineered to resist insect pests. The rules are meant to ensure that pests don?t develop resistance to the toxin in the corn plants, but the Environmental Protection Agency has long struggled to get compliance to acceptable levels.

Independent inspectors will check on farms where compliance is the lowest and where growers didn?t buy enough of the corn varieties they need to comply with the restrictions. Farmers that are found out of compliance will be more likely to lose their right to buy the insect-resistant seed, according to the National Corn Growers Association, which outlined the EPA?s plans. Tags on seed bags also will be modified to better explain the rules.

The restrictions limit how much of the biotech corn, known as Bt, that farmers can plant.

Federal regulators are stepping up enforcement of planting restrictions on corn that?s genetically engineered to resist insect pests. The rules are meant to ensure that pests don?t develop resistance to the toxin in the corn plants but the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to get compliance to acceptable levels.

The EPA is going to have inspectors check on farms where compliance is the lowest and where growers didn?t buy enough of the corn varieties they need to comply with the restrictions. Farmers that are found out of compliance will be more likely to lose their right to buy the insect-resistant seed, according to the National Corn Growers Association. Tags on seed bags also will be modified to better explain the rules.

The restrictions limit how much of the biotech corn, known as Bt, that farmers can plant in order to maintain the effectiveness of the toxin.