Signaling continued caution on planting of Agrisure Duracade, Syngenta has halted commercial sales of seed corn containing the trait in Canada, Reuters said Monday, according to a notice provided to seed dealers.
"'While the vast majority of the Canadian corn crop is typically directed to domestic markets in North America, some corn may be destined for these markets,'" Syngenta said in the notice, referring to China and the EU – markets that have not approved the trait. "'Accordingly, we want to ensure the acceptance of any trait technology grown in Canada meets end-market destination requirements.'"
The notice continues to say that any seed shipped to retailers in Canada cannot be sold, and arrangements will be made for returns, Reuters says.
Also according to Reuters, Syngenta is reportedly asking farmers who plant seeds containing the new trait to sign an agreement that states they will not ship it to China or the European Union.
The agreement requires farmers to market the grain as feed or deliver it to a facility that does not export to either unapproved location.
To prevent Duracade corn from accidentally mingling with approved varieties, Syngenta will advise farmers to harvest it separately, store it in separate bins, and surround fields of Duracade corn with "buffer" rows of another variety, according to the report.
NCGA keeps grower Website rolling
In response to ongoing concern about approvals in export markets, the National Corn Growers Association on Monday updated its "Know Before You Grow" Website to include more information on biotech corn events approved in the U.S. that are not approved for all other export markets, like Viptera and Duracade.
The information provided, NCGA says, allows growers to make informed decisions on potential marketing restrictions well before harvest.
"In a globalized agricultural economy, it is important that farmers understand the delicate balance that must be struck in trying to ensure access to the technologies necessary to combat production challenges while also ensuring export markets remain open to U.S. corn," said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman.
Zimmerman said trade with China is increasingly delicate as the country's approval timelines for biotech do not match other countries' timelines.
"While we must make robust efforts to maintain market access, be it through controlled limited release of new products or even delayed release, farmers should remain aware of the importance of these products to their operations as they face difficulties caused by biological stressors," Zimmerman said.
NCGA said it continues to maintain that all new biotech events must have approval in the United States and Japan prior to release. Additionally, the trait provider must be actively pursuing approval in all other markets for U.S. corn, they say.
The NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team and the Corn Board say they have examined all aspects and implications of introducing traits not approved in China or the EU to the U.S. corn market.
During the review, NCGA says they sought to find a balance between access to new technology and maintaining export relationships. In the instance of Agrisure Duracade, the team considered intense rootworm pressure in some areas.
"While the need to maintain export markets remains of great importance to NCGA, it also saw the potential difficulty farmers would face if a regulatory system that is not functioning overseas could bar farmers' access to necessary technologies indefinitely," an NCGA statement said.
Taking that position into account, NCGA asked that Syngenta develop a controlled limited release of the trait that would keep corn grown using Agrisure Duracade seed out of export channels in a closely monitored fashion.
Partnering with Gavilon, Syngenta has announced an agreement that would provide marketing opportunities to Duracade growers.
For farmers participating in the program, Gavilon will accept Agrisure Duracade grain at market price while providing stewardship and distribution services for producers, Syngenta said late last month.
Despite the new marketing channel, NCGA said it is urging members to examine the traits approved in export markets prior to planting, and reminds growers that corn used in ethanol production also often enters export streams as distillers dried grains – a popular product in China.
Growers should read their grower agreements before planting and communicate with their grain buyers, NCGA added.