ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

4 December 2002


'If the EU corn gluten market is lost, the feed will need to be absorbed by the US livestock industry, displacing whole corn in feed rations, Warfield says. "The resulting drop in US corn prices will cost corn producers approximately $1 billion." '

1. $1 billion loss predicted if corn growers don't avoid new GMOs
2. Quarantined soybeans in Aurora sold
3. Proagro blames govt for delay with GM mustard


1. Farm group leaders against planting GM corn not yet approved in EU

The twenty Farm Bureau board members in the nation's largest corn processing state have declared their opposition to planting genetically modified (GM) corn hybrids that haven't been approved in the European Union. The Illinois Farm Bureau board says a much-anticipated increase in such plantings could threaten a $400 million market for corn gluten, a co-product of ethanol and corn sweetener processing that is used for livestock feed.

IFB president Ron Warfield says Illinois acreage of genetically modified corn not approved in Europe has been less than 5% of the total crop so far, but notes new varieties expected to be cleared for 2003 planting could dramatically increase the acreage of EU-unapproved corn.

Seed companies suggest the need for new biotechnology-enhanced varieties could double the US corn acreage planted to GM corn by 2006.

If the EU corn gluten market is lost, the feed will need to be absorbed by the US livestock industry, displacing whole corn in feed rations, Warfield says. "The resulting drop in US corn prices will cost corn producers approximately $1 billion."

"In the IFB board's view, a gamble of that size with our export market is not worth the benefit derived from these new corn varieties."

The group is asking farmers not to plant EU-unapproved varieties of corn this planting season.


2. Quarantined soybeans in Aurora sold

The Independent, December 3, 2002

AURORA -- An agreement has been reached to sell 500,000 bushels of soybeans previously quarantined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Aurora Cooperative Interim General Manager Harlan Schafer said Monday.

"These soybeans had been declared contaminated when one load of soybeans that potentially contained residue from a genetically modified corn plant was put in storage with other beans," a written statement from Aurora Co-op said. Schafer said that concerns surfaced among Aurora cooperative stockholders that the company may stand a significant financial loss due to the situation.

The possibly tainted 500 bushels of soybeans were delivered to Aurora Co-op, and USDA officials told the elevator to isolate 500,000 bushels of soybeans while they determined if federal laws had been violated, the Associated Press reported Nov. 14.

The soybeans in question were first delivered to Stauffer Seed Co., which contracts with test plot growers for ProdiGene Inc. of College Station, Texas. ProdiGene would be responsible for paying costs if the soybeans were destroyed. The estimated open market value of the 500,000 bushels would be about $2.7 million.

In an agreement with the USDA, the soybeans were sold at fair market price "to remove the exposure of Aurora Cooperative and its stockholders from any potential financial loss related to the soybeans," the written statement said.

Schafer said he's not sure what will happen to the soybeans.

"If they are destroyed, it would appear on the surface to be a terrible waste, but it does show the resolve and commitment of everyone involved to maintain consumer confidence in our nation's food and feed supply," Schafer said.

The statement did not specify who would purchase the soybeans. Schafer did not return a call Monday night.

Aurora Cooperative offers services in grain, agronomy, petroleum and feed. It has locations in 23 communities in south Central Nebraska and one in northern Kansas.

Five Greenpeace activists were cited Nov. 19 for misdemeanor trespassing at Aurora Cooperative after two of them climbed an elevator and hung a 30-by-40-foot banner protesting the possibly contaminated soybeans stored there.


3. Proagro blames govt for delay in GM mustard nod


NEW DELHI: Proagro Seed Company, a company of the Bayer CropScience Group, which is awaiting clearance from the government for the commercialisation of GM mustard, is getting aggressive over the "lack of clarity and uncertainty" in the approval process followed by the government.

An inter-ministerial expert group - 'Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC)' - is expected to meet soon to consider the issue.

Addressing press persons at the company's Gurgaon campus comprising labs, greenhouses, fields and packaging units, managing director Clive J Pegg said the company was shocked when the GEAC deferred its decision in November as Proagro had provided all the information requested. "The last step should be the easiest... but we find that the rules of the game are changing as we play," he said.

Mr Pegg says the delay in getting the green signal from the government would push back the commercialisation to *Äò04. According to him the company had sunk Rs 5 crore into the project but was going round in circles repeating the same tests and doing the same checks to remove doubts and fears. While GEAC's primary duty was to look into biosafety, food safety and environmental safety, it was now getting into agronomic performance too, he said.

While the company has not got an official intimation on why the decision was deferred, Paresh Verma, director research reveals that the issues raised concern pollen flow from genetically modified to non-GM crops, the fact that GM mustard takes longer to mature than hybrids as well as the food safety aspects especially of mustard leaves which are consumed in North India.

Mr Verma said that all three doubts have been allayed. He claims the company has not only established that there is no pollen-flow from GM to non-GM, but also published its findings for peer review.

GM mustard takes four days more than Varuna (the national check hybrid) to mature, "which is not much" and the safety of GM mustard leaves has been certified by renowned institutes like Delhi-based Sriram Research Institute and Chennai-based Frederick Institute of Plant Protection and Technology.

Company officials explained to the press in detail how all the protocols approved by the government - including 69 field trials over five years (including 22 small scale replicated trials and 47 large scale trials) - had been conducted which proved that the GM crop had a 20% advantage against the national check, Varuna.

While Proagro is not against public debate and dialogue, the behind-the-scenes twists and turns are irking the cropsciences major. "We cannot pour money into projects without a clear idea where we are headed," Mr Pegg explained adding that for some GMO opponents, it would not be enough if tests were done for a 1000 years. Recalling the CII's call for a clear policy statement on GM after consultations with the industry and stake-holders, he said such a move would send the right signals to investors.

ngin bulletin archive