Friday, June 01, 2007

Corn marketers nervous about Agrisure RW

Farmers and corn marketers continue to be concerned about a genetically engineered variety of corn that has been planted in Iowa.

Agrisure RW, a new corn trait created by Syngenta that protects against corn rootworm, has only been approved for sale in domestic markets. But it has not yet been approved in important overseas markets.

According to an article on farm news website Agriculture Online, the corn variety is being marketed under Syngenta's Golden Harvest, NK and Garst brands. Several companies have already announced that they will not be accepting the Agrisure RW variety after this year's harvest, Agriculture Online reported. Those companies include grain transporters like Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, and corn milling facilities such as those owned by POET, a major corn-ethanol maker based in South Dakota.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey explained in an interview with Iowa Independent last week that the Agrisure RW variety has made a lot of Iowans in the corn business nervous.

"It was approved in the U.S. for food and feed, to be sold in the U.S., but it's not approved in Japan, in Mexico, in Taiwan, in many of our markets overseas," said Northey. "It probably will be approved, but the question is when. The real concern is, if it's in general release out there on farms right now, it could easily get into some of our ag exports into one of these countries. And what they'll do is they'll reject loads -- especially the Japanese will reject loads, and that will impact the market."

According to Northey, only Syngenta knows exactly how much of the Agrisure RW variety has been planted in Iowa.

"Other companies that have had this same situation generally have said they're not going to release it until we get those market approvals," said Northey. "Syngenta made the decision to bring it forward even though it's very possible we won't get those market approvals. So the grain industry as a whole is very concerned. Corn growers and many of the farm groups have stated their concern that there could be a serious market disruption."

Northey discussed some of the steps being taken to lessen effects of the problem. "In Iowa we've had a meeting with some of the grain industry folks to talk about ways to lessen the likelihood that there will be a problem. We're going to sit down with the Syngenta folks over the next month as well and look at ways to make sure that the farmers who did plant it know where they can sell that corn," he said. "The Japanese market is very, very important to corn farmers. We don't want to jeopardize that market. We need to do the best that we can, and sure hope those approvals come before fall or quickly after. It's not one of those situations we thought we were going to get into six months ago, but now we've got to deal with what's handed to us.

No comments: