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Proper regulation of unapproved transgenic crops a must for U.S. food, family farmer security

(April 18, 2002 CropChoice news) -- The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) is concerned that federal agencies responsible for guaranteeing the security of the U.S. food supply are not taking their role seriously enough when it comes to preventing the release of genetically modified (GMO) commodity varieties that are not approved for human consumption into the marketing system.

"Given the fact that the U.S. government is spending many millions of dollars to protect the American food supply, there is no excuse for allowing unapproved genetically modified varieties on the market and the biotech companies responsible for such contamination of the food supply should be held liable," says Dan McGuire, program director of the ACGA Farmer Choice - Customer First program.

ACGA's Farmer Choice-Customer First provides unbiased, honest, and objective information to the nation's corn producers. By having access to this information, farmers can make educated decisions about what varieties of seed to plant and how best to market them. Farmer Choice-Customer First understands that American farmers believe our foreign and domestic customers are always right, even if they may not be right for the reasons many in the production sector desire. It is the responsibility of U.S. farmers to grow what the customer demands and what the customer will buy.

"The news that Monsanto allowed an unapproved canola variety (GT200) to get into commercial market channels in North America and now wants USDA to look the other way and allow the presence of GT200 in the food supply indicates that either no lessons were learned from the StarLink corn debacle or that regulators are simply indifferent to consumer demands while acting as cheerleaders for the arrogant biotech companies' agenda. Neither scenario is acceptable," said Larry Mitchell, CEO of the Corn Growers Association. "The U.S. food safety and regulatory system must regain its integrity if U.S. consumers and foreign markets are to have any confidence in our agricultural production system. That means unapproved GMO varieties cannot be allowed in the food system. Federal agencies are supposed to be helping U.S. farmers compete overseas, not the opposite."

Monsanto was forced to recall canola seed containing GT200 in Canada last year because Japan, a primary destination for Canadian canola exports, had not approved GT200. It has also been reported that GT200 may have been in U.S. canola seed supplies for the past three years. GMO canola has severely cost Canadian farmers in terms of major reductions in canola exports to the European Union, similar to the way GMO corn cost U.S. farmers the European corn market. Japan, the largest export market for U.S. corn, and a market with serious concerns about the presence of genetically modified organisms, cut U.S. corn imports by 53 million bushels last year and has, as of April 4, taken delivery on 313,000 fewer metric tons (MT) of U.S. corn than one year ago. In addition, so far this year Taiwan has reduced imports of U.S corn by 218,000 MT; the category of 'Other Asia and Oceania' has imported 358,000 fewer MT of U.S. corn and China has imported absolutely no U.S. corn despite previous overly optimistic industry predictions. According to USDA, total U.S. corn exports as of April 4 were 862,000 MT less than a year earlier.

"The negative market impacts of reduced exports caused by problems associated with GMOs are being felt by American farmers through disastrously low farm level corn prices. On April 15, cash corn prices were hovering at about $1.60 per bushel in South Dakota. That corn price says it loud and clear -- U.S. GMO policy is as big a disaster as current U.S. farm and trade policy," McGuire said.