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Corn growers associations caution farmers about StarLink

(January 23, 2001 – Cropchoice news) – Both the American Corn Growers Association and the National Corn Growers Association cautioned farmers about StarLink corn today.

The American Corn Growers Association (www.acga.org) sees a connection between the ongoing StarLink contamination of U.S. corn exports (Japan is mighty upset about it) and Spain's decision last year to pay $6 per ton over the then market prices for non- genetically engineered corn from Brazil.

Lynden Peter, the executive director of American Corn Growers, said that foreign suppliers don't see the United States as a reliable exporter of non-biotech grain, thanks in large part to StarLink. Other countries, mainly Brazil, are stepping in and reaping those lost export sales.

"Official USDA export information through the Foreign Agricultural Service confirms that accumulated corn exports in the current marketing year are running 11 percent below last year as of the first week in January," said Dan McGuire, program director for the Association. "Outstanding U.S. corn export sales are 15 percent below last year and total commitments to date are 12 percent behind that same time a year ago. Clearly, the StarLink issue specifically, and concerns about GMOs in general, are having a negative impact."

McGuire added that corn prices last week in South Dakota are as low as $1.58 per bushel.

"Reduced U.S. corn exports are keeping cash corn prices down at the farm level," he said. "Meanwhile, Brazil, a non-traditional corn exporter, is capturing business that should have gone to the United States and is forecast to increase its corn output by 27 percent over last year. U.S. farmers are paying a very real price for ignoring foreign buyer concerns about GMOs. Our export competitors are seizing the opportunity and we can expect more of that."

American Corn Growers has warned farmers about planting genetically engineered corn even though a growing number of consumers don't want it and won't buy it. This, coupled with high inventories and low prices, could spell trouble for farmers.

Meanwhile, the National Corn Growers Association (www.ncga.com) urged farmers to insist that seed companies verify that they've tested their varieties for Cry9C, the StarLink Bt.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said that seed companies will not sell, nor will farmers grow, StarLink corn in 2001. In late December, the Department recommended that seed companies test all hybrids and parent lines for Cry9C, and put any seeds that tested positive into feed or non-food industrial use.

Sources: American Corn Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association