In the harvest rush, a farmer might not be thinking about export markets across the Atlantic Ocean. A Web site operated in cooperation with Purdue University reminds growers of handling and marketing procedures, to keep biotech corn from reaching Europe, where the grain has not been approved for use.
The Market Choices home page, located at http://www.marketchoices.info, also contains a database of elevators that accept the genetically modified (GMO) grain, said Dirk Maier, a Purdue Extension grain quality specialist. "When producers planted corn in the spring, they signed stewardship agreements for a number of the hybrids that they planted," Maier says. "The stewardship agreements refer to certain hybrids that are fully approved in the U.S. market. These hybrids are absolutely safe to plant, consume, process and export into all overseas markets except the European market.
"Since we are in the middle of the harvest season, this Web site is a good reminder for producers to think back on which of those corn hybrids they planted, from which fields they are being harvested and in which grain bins they will be put, to keep that grain segregated from normal corn hybrids that are free to be produced and sold anywhere."
The Market Choices Web site provides tips on proper combine cleaning, to avoid the possible mixing of GMO and non-GMO corn. Other links offer information on value-added grains, uses for biotech corn and downloadable "Know Where to Go" posters.
The posters also are available at county offices of Purdue Extension.
"Grain from corn hybrids with stacked traits that are not yet approved for export to Europe include, for example, Herculex I Insect Protection, Roundup Ready, YieldGard Plus, YieldGard Corn Borer and Roundup Ready, YieldGard Rootworm, YieldGard Rootworm and Roundup Ready, and YieldGard CornBorer and Liberty Link.
"For most of this year I have not heard of any problems that have created overseas concerns with regard to traits that have gotten into the export channel that shouldn't have been in the channel, specifically to Europe."
Europe's rejection of biotech corn has had few negative affects on corn exports, with the possible exception of world opinion, Maier says.
"We export hardly any corn to the European market," he says. "What we primarily export is corn gluten feed, which is one of the byproducts that comes out of the wet milling industry. That feed is very high in protein content, and genetically modified transgenic traits are protein related.
"Other than that, Europe does influence decision making in other countries throughout Africa and into Asia, where we export corn. When doubts are raised in those countries, it definitely affects our exports. A case in point was last year when food aid was sent to Zimbabwe, where many people were starving. There were concerns raised by European groups -- and even European governments -- that corn being sent to Zimbabwe as food aid from the United States was not safe to consume because it contained genetically-modified traits.
That's a very disruptive process over an issue that has noscientific basis." Other participating partners in the Market Choices Web site include DowAgroSciences LLC, Monsanto Co., the American Seed Trade Association and the National Corn Growers Association; and Extension programs, co-op and grain/feed associations in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.