GROWING tension over a biotech corn trait has eased following the announcement of a stewardship program for producers planning to use the controversial Syngenta seed trait Agrisure Duracade.
Following the announcement, one grain organization emphasized that those involved in the program should strictly adhere to it for the sake of the entire supply chain.
The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) stressed that it is important for all sectors of the value chain — individual farmers, technology providers, shippers and exporters alike — to recognize the potentially significant international implications of their actions.
"Today's unfortunate reality is that biotechnology approval systems around the world are not synchronous. In addition, some countries still lack effective, trade-enabling policies regarding the low-level presence of unapproved biotech events in grain shipments," USGC chief executive officer Tom Sleight said. "Inadvertent commingling is almost certain to occur in the high-volume U.S. commodity handling system, and modern testing methods are likely to detect even trace levels of unapproved events. The presence of unapproved events in the export stream, therefore, carries a significant risk of major international trade disruptions."
He said given the increase in corn production in competitor countries and the ability of buyers to source corn from anywhere in the world, leakage of unapproved biotech events may result in the closure of some major markets to U.S. corn for an indefinite period.
USGC "represents a wide variety of members across the value chain committed to maintaining an open and fair grain trading system around the world," Sleight added. "We recognize the desire of producers to deploy new technology as soon as it becomes available. We recognize, also, that continued technology development is essential to achieving global food security and creating new opportunities for producers and agribusinesses."
Referring to recent events in China, he added that USGC believes that countries lacking a functioning, science-based regulatory system ought not to be able to have a de facto veto over U.S. technology deployment. At the same time, however, the council made it clear that the risk of costly trade disruption is significant and should be taken seriously by the entire value chain.
"There is no easy solution to these conflicting goals," Sleight said. "In the short term, we urge all stakeholders to weigh the consequences of their actions, recognize the international implications of planting and marketing decisions and stringently adhere to their stewardship responsibilities. In the long run, we encourage all parties to join the council in working for a resolution of the low-level presence and asynchronous approval issues, which is the solution ultimately needed to serve the common interests of producers, agribusinesses and consumers around the world."