Four Grain Companies To Reject Duracade

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (DTN) -- Four major grain companies -- Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge, Cargill and Consolidated Grain and Barge (CGB) -- have indicated they will not accept corn containing Syngenta's new corn rootworm trait Agrisure Duracade until it receives proper approvals from export customers.

The genetically engineered trait has cleared the necessary regulatory hurdles in the U.S., but does not yet have clearance in China and the European Union. Syngenta intends a limited commercial launch of hybrids containing Duracade for the coming planting season.

Last week Syngenta announced an agreement with Gavilon Grain to provide grain marketing opportunities for farmers who choose to plant Agrisure Duracade. Gavilon has said it would accept the corn at market price to help provide a stewardship and distribution service for producers. However, details of the stewardship agreement reveal growers are not required to market the grain in this fashion.

In late January 2014, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) called upon Syngenta to halt sales of seed containing Duracade and Viptera, a separate, genetically engineered trait that helps growers control above-ground insects. Over the past few months, China has rejected 600,000 tonnes of corn and corn products that tested positive for Viptera, also known as MIR 162.

Syngenta media spokesperson Paul Minehart told DTN the company has been seeking approval for the Viptera trait for four years and has been waiting on China's approval for two years. He indicated hope the Viptera issue might be resolved in February in time for planting. "We have had other traits approved [during this time] and don't understand the holdup on this one," he said.

Minehart also noted that Viptera has received approvals in the major export markets as defined by the National Corn Growers Association and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). China was not considered a major customer when Viptera began its regulatory path.

Regarding Agrisure Duracade, he provided the following statement: "Syngenta believes American growers need and should have access to new solutions when those technologies are approved for cultivation. With unexpected corn rootworm damage concerns rising, American growers have indicated a strong interest in accessing this new technology as soon as possible. Syngenta is currently marketing this technology, with a limited launch planned for cultivation in the U.S. and Canada in 2014. Syngenta will work with growers and grain traders at harvest regarding the marketing of this grain."

In a statement Monday, grain trader CGB said it would not accept Duracade unless the trait has been approved by major export markets -- including China, Egypt, Turkey and the European Union. CGB stated it may test or require testing of incoming deliveries so long as the trait remains unapproved in certain export markets to which CGB supplies grain.

"CGB is committed and heavily invested in marketing U.S. grains to the world market," Greg Beck, VP grain division, said in a news release. "CGB supports GMO technology to increase yield and farmer efficiency; however, it is imperative that we take measured steps to protect against significant trade disruptions due to introduction of the trait prior to approval in our important export markets.

"U.S. producers are facing increased competition for their products from across the world, South America and the Black Sea most notably, and we consider it important to take steps enabling us to better supply grains that meet export requirements," he added.

Jackie Anderson, ADM media relations, provided the following statement to DTN:

Wide-scale planting of traits that aren't approved by key importing countries would diminish the competitiveness of American grain and feed exports. To help ensure the continued strength of U.S. agriculture, we're all-farmers, elevators, processors and exporters-well served by making certain that the crops and products we deliver are acceptable in key export markets. So, ADM is asking farmers to confirm that the seed they intend to plant this spring is approved for all major export markets, including China. If it's not, we'd encourage them to check with their seed sales representative to see if their order can be exchanged for seeds that are approved for global use. We recognize it's an extra step, but we're confident it's in the best interests of everyone involved in U.S. agriculture.

Because of the importance of exports to American agriculture, ADM will not accept, against any export or domestic processing contract, any commodity that contains the Duracade trait, unless it is approved in all of our major export markets. For now, we reserve the right to test deliveries and decline those that contain Duracade. As for Viptera, if producers or suppliers intend to deliver to our interior elevators any product containing that trait, we ask that they notify us ahead of time.

The announcements come at a critical time for U.S. farmers. Most have already placed and taken delivery for seed for 2014. Corn growers are also hungry for another rootworm trait. Western corn rootworms showed the ability to resist Monsanto's Cry3Bb1 trait in areas of the Midwest in 2011. In 2013, Iowa State University confirmed that some populations of Western corn rootworms have become resistant to Agrisure RW (mCry3A) -- the other rootworm trait component to be stacked with Duracade (eCry2.1Ab). For more on rootworm management tactics, see "Rootworm Strategy" by DTN News Intern Emily Unglesbee in the DTN Ag News section.

Nathan Fields, National Corn Growers Association director of biotechnology and economic analysis, told DTN in a phone interview that growers need to understand that if they are planting either Viptera or Duracade products, there could be marketing problems at the end of the year.

Issues of acceptance of Viptera came in the midst of the 2011 harvest and caused real problems for growers, he noted. "We want to make sure that growers go into this understanding what marketing concerns might be there at the end of the growing season before they plant it," said Fields.

For a list of approved traits go to: http://www.ncga.com/…

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