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Corn Growers say U.S. isolating itself on GMO issue: Japan, Europe tighten regulations on unapproved biotech crops in feed

(Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- "As U.S. government and trade reports reveal that cumulative U.S. corn export inspections as of Oct. 10, 2002 are running 33 percent behind levels of a year ago, the Financial Times reported on Oct. 15, that the U.S. 'remains angry at the loss of potential corn exports to Europe worth around $300 million every year,'" says Dan McGuire, Director of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) Farmer Choice - Customer First program. "Even now, some U.S. agricultural officials still do not grasp the seriousness of the issue and suggest that they are 'isolating' the Europeans on this GMO food issue, when indeed it is the U.S. that is isolating itself. The U.S groups that operate as cheerleaders for the biotech companies are still trying to paint Europe into a corner on the GMO issue when Japan and various other countries around the world are just as concerned about GMOs."

Since 1997 the ACGA has been alerting U.S. farmers, government officials and the public regarding the loss of corn export sales that would result if the U.S. did not take the views of consumers around the world seriously on the issue of GMOs. The Oct. 28, 2002 edition of The Nation, using ACGA data which estimates that U.S. corn farmers have lost more than $814 million in foreign sales over the past five years as a result of restrictions on genetically modified food imports imposed by Europe, Japan and other world buyers, goes on to say, "That enormous figure does not even account for the depressed prices farmers now receive for their corn as a result of an oversupply (of unexported corn) on the domestic market---with a deleterious effect on farmers' livelihood that the recent farm bill attempts to address with up to $20 billion in subsidies. For every American taxpayer, that amounts to a personal subsidy to the agricultural biotech industry." And McGuire added, "The Financial Times estimate of a potential loss of $300 million yearly in U.S. corn export sales to Europe, while somewhat higher than the ACGA estimate, confirms just how costly the U.S. position on GMOs is to the U.S. economy."

Larry Mitchell, CEO of the ACGA pointed out that the ACGA recently called on Congress to request a new study by the General Accounting Office (GAO) to determine the extent of economic damage done to the U.S. farm sector from the loss of exports because of GMOs. "These lost sales set in storage and accumulate as year-over-year corn inventories and that holds down farm-level corn prices, especially under current farm policy which lacks any true price support, orderly marketing or inventory management tools," said Mitchell. "Just because corn prices have temporarily bounced up because of the 2002 drought-driven short crop doesn't mean that problems with GMOs are going away. One normal growing season will take us right back to excess inventories and low corn prices."

The American Corn Growers Association represents 14,000 members in 35 states. See http://www.acga.org

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