As combines start rolling in corn fields throughout the Midwest, the National Corn Growers Association is reminding growers of the importance of properly channeling grain this harvest. This is particularly important for growers who planted the limited release of the Agrisure Duracade event from Syngenta.
The Right to Grow system tightly controlled the sale of seed corn produced using Duracade technology in a vigorous attempt to keep it out of export channels and limited the amount of Duracade released to ensure corn grown could effectively managed by the trait provider. Through a marketing agreement signed with Gavilon, Right to Grow provides a specified marketing channel for all corn grown with Duracade technology and acts as another line of assurance farmers will be able to steward their grain into proper channels.
The politics of international trade can be tricky business. Just one news headline, one bad shipment or one failed delivery can have a devastating ripple effect for domestic agriculture — particularly when dealing with some of the more demanding, and often fickle, importers of U.S. agricultural products. For this reason, NCGA is urging growers to double recheck any seed plots on farms or contracted with a third parties to verify that they know what precisely has been planted and ensure sensitive varieties are properly stewarded into appropriate channels. NCGA also offers a full listing of commercial hybrids containing the Duracade trait on its Know Before You Grow online tool.
“‘Know before you grow’ is an important page on NCGA’s website. There has been a lot of discussion with the trade and current events of importers of our corn and the restrictions they are placing on our ability to have new traits. ‘Know before you grow’ is the place for NCGA members to learn what is out there that is available and any of the restrictions that go along with the new products,” said John Linder, with the Ohio Corn Marketing Program, who serves on the NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. “The Viptera trait from Syngenta is the one that is causing everybody heartburn at this point. It should have been approved by China a long time ago and it is in production. It is also in production in South America. Another one is the Agrisure Duracade rootworm protection trait that Syngenta is releasing. It is not approved by China and it can’t be approved by China until it is planted on American soil. It can’t get through their process until it is in production.”
NCGA’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team has been working to find a balance between the vital need to maintaining crucial export markets and the need to move forward with technology in a way that is not hindered by trade politics. To accomplish this, NCGA asked Syngenta to develop a controlled limited release of the trait that would keep Agrisure Duracade seed out of export channels in a closely monitored fashion.
Understanding the ramifications of planting Duracade, and other unapproved traits, is important before the crop goes in the bin.
“In the previous farm bill we had some protection if we were growing something that we couldn’t sell. We had some liability protection, but with the new farm bill we lost that protection. It is on our backs now. As producers, we have no liability protection from the USDA if we grow an unapproved product that gets in the pipeline,” Linder said. “But, if we have to wait on China to tell us that we can plant a new trait, we’ll never have new traits. It is their sovereign right to decide if they want it or not, but it is our sovereign right to decide if we need a trait and need to plant it. We need to be careful to protect the exports for all of American producers.”
Any problems with exports could give competitors of U.S. agriculture a significant advantage.
“South America, at this point, does not need rootworm protection. So they are not going to plant this,” Linder said. “So, if China decides they don’t want it, they will just go to South America and we will lose that marketing opportunity.”
China has already turned away shipments of U.S. agricultural products, and they are likely looking for excuses to continue to do so.
“The reality is that the Chinese, for whatever reasons, are using some of this as an excuse,” said Les Imboden, with the U.S. Grains Council and Ohio Corn Marketing Program. “If these other countries start playing dirty politics, they could give us real problems with shipping. You need to make sure you fully understand this. We have been through Starlink before and we don’t want that to happen again.”
Below is a table representing the single biotechnology events with limited approval status in major importing countries and the EU. (no = Possible Marketing Implications)
If a trait is not listed here, it does not impact the major importing markets for U.S. corn.