The Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) is stepping up its pressure on the state's farmers to not plant GMO corn that isn't approved by the European Union (EU). While less than 5% of the state's corn acreage has been planted to non-approved GMO hybrids in the past, new products likely headed toward the market in 2003 have the farm organization concerned that the number of acres could increase significantly.

“Keeping much larger quantities of EU-unapproved corn out of export market channels will be virtually impossible, given the zero-tolerance attitudes in the EU,” says IFB President Ron Warfield. At stake is the $400 million export market for corn gluten in the EU.

“In the IFB board's view, a gamble of that size with our export market is not worth the benefit derived from these new corn varieties,” he says.

Illinois farmer and chairman for NCGA's Biotechnology Working Group, Leon Corzine, says the national groups have a less restrictive view of the situation, but their concerns are just as great. “We're picking out regions within the state where we discourage growing non-approved hybrids,” he says. “Non-approved hybrids headed for the river markets for export aren't a problem. The EU only imports processed products. But, if your corn will end up at one of the state's processors, you definitely shouldn't plant non-approved hybrids.”