Know Before You Grow Corn

01:35PM Oct 28, 2011
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A dizzying array of corn trait technologies will head to the field in 2012. Nathan Fields, National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) director of biotechnology and economic analysis, urges farmers to carefully read grower agreements before planting and communicate with buyers prior to delivery. Some of the products still need to clear regulatory hurdles in export markets.

"There has been some confusion this year because some reduced refuge and refuge-in-a-bag [RIB] products are fully approved in the U.S., yet they do not have European Union [EU] approval," Fields says.

SmartStax (sold as RIB and non-RIB by Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto Company) and the trait stacks of Pioneer Hi-Bred’s newest RIB and non-RIB products (Optimum AcreMax, Optimum AcreMax Xtra and Optimum Intrasect) are not yet approved for EU import. The individual traits or proteins in these stacks have EU approval, but the combination or stack does not, Fields says.

Agrisure Viptera, Syngenta’s insecticidal protein, is different because the trait itself still lacks approval from the EU and China. The company expects approval from China before 2012 planting.

"The EU regulatory process doesn’t work as quickly and isn’t predictable," Fields says. "The EU hasn’t been a significant export market, but we urge growers to funnel hybrids not fully approved for EU export to other markets."

Fields says there is an ample market for U.S. biotech corn—approximately 42% of all U.S. grown corn is fed to livestock. Ethanol facilities might or might not take corn that has not been fully approved by the EU, depending on whether they are exporting corn gluten feed and dried distillers’ grains to the EU.

Grain buyers can also test for the events in question.

Regional companies and licensees also sell hybrids with the stacked technology. To check the approval of a hybrid, visit