The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made its list and is definitely checking it twice. So if you're using Bt, you better not be naughty, but nice. That's the word from Leon Corzine, chairman for NCGA's Biotechnology Working Group.
EPA and the Ag Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee (ABSTC) announced a tougher compliance program early this winter that calls for increased monitoring of required refuges and stiffer penalties for those who don't comply.
Under the new rules, farmers who are out of compliance with refuge requirements for two consecutive years will be prevented from buying Bt hybrids the third year. Dealers have increased responsibilities to educate farmers, monitor their compliance and submit the data to their companies.
“The new system isn't bulletproof. There will always be some rascals, as I like to call them, who don't do what they're supposed to,” Corzine says. “This new system helps flush out whether a guy made an honest mistake when he planted or he's just a rascal.”
If the EPA doesn't see improvement with compliance, farmers and seed companies will likely see tougher standards yet, according to Corzine.
“The companies have agreed to work together. A data base had been considered that could be cross-referenced,” he says. “If EPA doesn't see continued improvement, it might consider larger refuges, ratchet down farmers' ability to buy the product, or, even on-site inspections. Farmers and seed dealers must understand refuges are required to protect the technology and that EPA is serious about compliance. There is no room for the bad players.”