USDA reports that almost 20% of Midwestern farms growing a pest-resistant biotech crop have failed to comply with federal planting requirements, according to an Associated Press story.

“There are probably some individuals who may not have understood the rules and didn't follow their contracts precisely,” says Mark Harris, chief of the department's crop statistics branch.

The survey looked at 289,640 farms in 10 states — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin — to see how many were growing Bt corn. It found that 93,530 farms, or 32%, were growing 4.2 million acres of it.

Of those, only about 4/5 were complying with an EPA refuge requirement that farmers grow Bt corn in fields surrounded with conventional corn.

EPA says the agency is still reviewing the survey. USDA estimates that 17 million acres of Bt corn were planted nationwide this year.

EPA officials do not visit Bt fields to see if farmers are complying. It relies on seed companies to ensure that farmers know they must plant refuges.

For more information, contact USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service at www.usda.gov.nass.