AgDM newsletter article, May 2007

New hybrid not approved in international markets, farmers must keep seeds separate

DES MOINES - Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today encouraged Iowa farmers planting corn from Syngenta with the new “AgriSure™ RW” trait, which is resistant to rootworm, to check into marketing restrictions they will face during harvest this fall.
 
“AgriSure™ RW MIR 604” has been approved by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for use in the United States, but the product has not yet been approved for use by a number of countries around the world.
 
“New technology, like corn that is resistant to rootworm, has been a huge benefit to farmers and it is important that we continue pursue this technology in a responsible way if farmers are going to meet their mandate to feed and now fuel the world,” Northey said.  “But, it’s critical that Iowa farmers understand the restrictions that they will face as they try to market ‘AgriSure™ RW’ this fall and the potential enormous negative effect on our export markets if it is not handled properly.”
 
Since “AgriSure™” is currently only approved for domestic use, farmers will be responsible for finding markets that only serve domestic users when marketing their crop this fall. This includes Dried Distillers Grains (DDGs) produced from “AgriSure™ RW” corn by ethanol plants.
 
Currently, it is unknown how many feed mills, ethanol plants and elevators in Iowa are willing to take “AgriSure™.” The safest option available to farmers is for them to feed it to their own livestock.
 
A major market disruption would result if “AgriSure™ RW” is found in the export channels or by countries that have not yet approved of its use. Additionally, biotech missteps may lead to additional regulation as well as longer waiting periods in the future for international acceptance.
 
“Syngenta has assured me that they are confident that this event can be introduced without incident and it’s important they are right,” Northey said. “Many experts and industry leaders have expressed concerns that Syngenta has rushed this hybrid to market and I hope those concerns aren’t proved to be justified.”
 
The National Corn Growers Association has requested that Syngenta not release the trait this planting season based on the current lack of full Japanese approvals. Japan is the U.S. leading export market and accounts for nearly 5 percent of total U.S. production. According to USDA, approximately 20 percent of the corn crop in America is exported annually.
 
It is likely many international markets would be closed if “AgriSure™ RW” is found in shipments to Japan or other countries that have not yet approved of its use.
 
It’s important that farmers pay close attention to the “communication and commitment” form they signed when purchasing the product and to double checkto see limitations placed on them by the agreement. Farmers may also want to mark the planting locations on their farm maps to track of the “AgriSure™” plants at harvest.
 
The co-mingling of corn at elevators and the increasing amount of DDGs from ethanol plants that are being exported makes the separation of “AgriSure™” corn from varieties that have been approved for export very difficult.
 
The rapidly changing ethanol industry is causing companies that haven’t exported corn or DDGs in the past to examine international markets as a possible new destination for these products.  As a result, some elevators and ethanol plants that have not exported in the past may be looking to in the future.
 
“The best advice for farmers that have already purchased or planted this hybrid is for them to contact their elevator or feed mill and to stay in touch with them regularly until they deliver this fall,” said Northey. “It’s vitally important for all farmers to understand the restrictions that they will face this fall and are preparing now to deal with them.”

Farmers with questions or concerns can learn more on Syngenta’s website at www.agrisuretraits.com or by calling a toll free line at 1-866-796-4368.

Farmers with questions or concerns can contact the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship at (515) 281-5321, the Iowa Corn Growers Association at (515) 225-9242 or the Iowa Attorney Generals Office at (515) 281-5351. The Iowa Corn Growers also have a “Know Before You Grow” website with more information on all biotech hybrids that can be found at www.iowacorn.org.

 

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