WASHINGTON June 5, 2001 --- The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA), watching foreign export markets continue to fade away and seeing corn prices paid to U.S. farmers continue to drop, is questioning the wisdom of promoting biotechnology (GMOs) to foreign customers.
"The ACGA believes an explanation is owed to the thousands of American farmers who were told to trust this technology, yet now see their prices fall to historically low levels while other countries exploit U.S. vulnerability and pick off our export customers one by one," said Larry Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of the ACGA. "An explanation is also owed our foreign customers on why the United States isn't leading the effort to promote and sell the type of commodities and products they want and demand."
ACGA's Farmer Choice - Customer First program continues to provide information to U.S. farmers concerning the GMO-driven loss of export markets, legal liability created by cross-pollination contamination and the limitations inherent in on-farm segregation. The program provides objective information and encourages farmers to make informed planting decisions about what seed varieties to plant. The ACGA program urges farmers to study the pros and cons of agricultural biotechnology and its potential market impacts.
"Brazil's current marketing year corn exports have risen to 1.7 million metric tons (67 million bushels), which competes directly with U.S. corn producers," said Dan McGuire, ACGA Program Director. "Meanwhile, just last week, a news report stated that Cargill is breaking ground to set up a new port terminal on the banks of the Tapajos river at Sanatarem, Para state (Brazil) to be completed within ten months, with a turnover of 120,000 metric tons per month. The Sanatarem facility is expected to result in a freight savings of US $60 million on the 3 million metric ton volume of soybeans to be transported to the facility from northern Mato Grosso state via the BR 163 roadway. Brazil is a Non-GMO soybean producer. The same news report says that Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul states produce 3.5 million metric tons of soybeans, which should grow to 10 million metric tons within five years as transportation problems are tackled. Now Brazil is also a corn exporter, competing directly with U.S. farmers.
With this new export facility, we can expect Brazil to expedite a soybean/corn crop rotation program which will increase competition for U.S. farmers over the long term," added McGuire.
More recent developments should also concern U.S. farmers. The May 28, 2001 edition of Feedstuffs reported that Australia's Industrial Supplies Office "has identified the non-genetically modified (non-GM) status of Australia as a possible advantage over other soybean producers, such as the U.S., which has more than half its soybean crop sown to GM varieties." A May 21, 2001 news report out of London stated that a delegation from India, sponsored by the Soybean Processors Association of India met trade officials in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Britain to persuade buyers that their soybean meal is non-GM, unlike other producers. India has already carved a niche for its non-GM soy products in Asia, with exports from 2.5 to 3 million metric tons per year. According to a May 18, 2001 news report from Quito, Ecuador, the Ecuadorian government suspended a United Nations-sponsored nutritional program that provides food for poor children and mothers due to the possibility that genetically engineered soybeans were among some of the food products. And, China continues to be an aggressive corn exporter, also exploiting the U.S. vulnerability in Japan and other large U.S. corn markets, that results from GMOs in general and StarLink corn specifically. "Even in the face of all these negative market signals, it appears that some in the U.S. are willing to promote biotechnology no matter how negative the impact is on U.S. exports and commodity prices. That arrogant strategy is turning out to be a 'market development in reverse' program," concluded McGuire.
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