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University agriculture policy center expert validates ACGA policy on GMOs by saying: 'The customer is king'

(Nov. 28, 2001 -- CropChoice news) -- In his recent Policy Matters article, GMOs: The Customer is King, Dr. Darryl E. Ray confirmed the validity of the GMO policy the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) has promoted for years. Dr. Ray holds the Blasingame Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Policy, Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee and is Director of UT’s Agricultural Policy Center.

"ACGA has accurately warned farmers and the U.S. grain industry as a whole that we must respect the preferences of foreign customers on the issue of whether they choose to purchase conventional, non-GMO corn varieties over GMO, genetically altered varieties," said Larry Mitchell, ACGA CEO. "Dr. Ray’s article of Nov. 23, 2001, further confirms that we’ve been right on target on this issue from the beginning."

According to a Bloomberg News article that appeared in the Nov. 26, 2001, edition of The Dallas Morning News, the Canadian National Railway Co. says it may have to park scores of unused rail cars this winter unless Japan and Korea start buying more U.S. corn. Quoting the article, "Canadian National is getting fewer orders for trains to haul corn from Midwest farms to ports on the Gulf of Mexico because Japan and other Asian countries have slashed U.S. corn imports by as much as 45 percent. Mostly, the importers are worried that U.S. supplies contain banned genetically altered varieties."

"U.S. farmers need a number of initiatives to be competitive, including a strong competition title in the new farm bill, but the U.S. grain industry will never stay competitive in foreign markets if it doesn’t respond to customer demands by providing identity preserved, non-GMO corn if that’s what the customer wants," said Dan McGuire, program director of the ACGA Farmer Choice – Customer First educational program. McGuire noted that according to USDA’s Foreign Ag Service Weekly Export Sales report, U.S. corn exports as of the week ending Nov. 15, 2001, compared to one year ago, are 10 percent less to Japan, 13 percent less to Taiwan and 18 percent less to the category ‘other Asia and Oceania’. Total accumulated corn exports to known and unknown destinations are 12 percent behind last year at this time. "Dr. Ray is absolutely correct in his analysis of the market situation regarding GMOs and world markets," added McGuire. "The end result of GMO-driven importer alienation has lost U.S. corn exports. Last week South Korea bought 56,000 metric tons of corn from China. Those lost U.S. corn sales opportunities mean lower corn prices paid to American farmers."

Dr. Ray’s paper on GMOs states, "If the customer wants a GMO free corn, then maybe that is what they (U.S. farmers) should try to produce. When it comes to customer preferences, it is not a matter of science or right or wrong or what might ultimately be acceptable. It’s also not a matter of U.S. testing and safety certification. It simply is a matter of what the customer wants to buy. One alternative to the head-to-head battle is for the producer, the U.S. in this case, to remember the old dictum, "The Customer is King."

ACGA launched its Farmer Choice – Customer First program in 1999 to bring the critical market issues concerning GMOs to the attention of farmers and the public. For more information, please visit their website at www.acga.org