NEWS STORIES

BIOTECHNOLOGY

(Posted Thu. Jun 21st, 2018)

Keywords: biotechnology

The National Agricultural Genotyping Center, launched with the assistance of the National Corn Growers Association, marks its two-year anniversary today and it does so with a significant list of accomplishments in both facilitating research and solving problems for farmers.   NAGC’s mission is to translate scientific discoveries, such as the information from the multiple crop genome projects, into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy and national security.   “We’re proud of the accomplishments of NAGC to date to solve problems concerning farmers and the public,” said NAGC Board Chairman Bob Bowman. “Ongoing projects related to early identification of plant diseases, more efficient ethanol production and solving the riddle of honey bee colony collapse are clearly delineating the NAGC’s role as a service-oriented facility. Efforts are underway to expand these unique services to other crops and the livestock industry.”   Bowman notes the...

(Posted Wed. May 30th, 2018)

Keywords: biotechnology

America’s farmers’ access to biotechnology seeds has been impeded by regulatory delays in China, costing the overall U.S. economy both jobs and billions of dollars in economic output, according to a study released today by Informa’s Agribusiness Consulting Group in tandem with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.   “This report further confirms something that we have already known: China’s biotech approval process has functioned in an unpredictable manner that compounds delays and has global ramifications,” said Don Duvall, a farmer from Illinois and Chair of the National Corn Growers Association’s Freedom to Operate Action Team . “For American agriculture to achieve its full potential, farmers need access to both the most cutting-edge technologies as well as to international markets.”   More timely biotech import approvals would benefit China, as well as ag exporters such as the United States, Argentina and Brazil, by increasing food security and decreasing food prices...

Statement by the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food on the Publication of USDA’s Proposed Rule for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard

(Posted Fri. May 4th, 2018)

Keywords: biotechnology

“The proposed rule published today by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is a critical step towards establishing a National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard by the July 29, 2018 deadline. We want to sincerely thank Secretary Perdue, Under Secretary Ibach, and the Agriculture Marketing Service team for their diligence to get this critically important proposed rule published. The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food remains committed to a standard that gives consumers access to information about the food they purchase; ensures that farmers continue to have the tools they need to feed a growing world population; and provides certainty to food manufacturers, retailers and others in the supply chain.   “Over 1,100 national, state, and local organizations representing the food and agriculture value chain supported enactment of the Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act, because it prevented a state-by-state patchwork of labeling laws, that would have cost U.S. consumers, farmers and...

NCGA Praises USDA for Taking Science-Based Stance on New Product Regulation

(Posted Thu. Apr 5th, 2018)

Keywords: biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association praised the announcement made last week by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue publicly stating that the U.S. Department of Agriculture“ does not regulate or have plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests.”   This announcement shows the dedication of the USDA to develop common-sense regulatory solutions which are strongly based in science. By recognizing the way in which new technologies work and creating processes that ensure safety, our government allows farmers access to the tools necessary to combat ever-changing field conditions and improve the health of their crop.   We are pleased to see our government strive to unencumber the economy from the chains of costly, unnecessary over-regulation. By taking this stance, the USDA has put our government in a leadership position on how this technology can be...

(Posted Wed. Jan 10th, 2018)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Southern corn growers will pull their planters out of the shed and into the field in only a few short weeks. Bt corn will be planted on millions of acres across the South, protecting plants from damaging insects like corn borer and corn earworm. But to ensure that the technology remains effective, farmers in cotton-growing areas must plant a structured refuge alongside their Bt corn.   “Planting a refuge is the single most important thing we can do to keep Bt traits working for years to come,” said Chad Wetzel, a farmer from Tom Bean, Texas, and member of the National Corn Growers Association Freedom to Operate Action Team. “If we lose Bt technology as a defense against insects, growing corn will change dramatically.”   Southern corn growers must plant their fields to include either a 20 or 50 percent refuge, depending on the Bt hybrid planted. The purpose of planting a refuge area is to prevent pests from developing resistance to the Bt technology. That refuge ensures that the...

(Posted Thu. Jul 27th, 2017)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology

Farmers attending last week’s National Corn Growers Association Corn Congress called for faster access to new biotechnology-enhanced crop traits.  The move reflects growing frustration among NCGA members over excessive regulatory delays in the international marketplace.   “Farmers recognize that a strong, science-based, regulatory system is essential to reassure consumers about the safety and quality of our crops,” said Wesley Spurlock, a farmer from Stratford, Texas and NCGA president.  “At the same time, when it takes four to six years, or more, to secure regulatory approvals in certain markets, it is clear that a country’s regulatory system is broken.”   The NCGA’s new policy supports the commercialization of new biotechnology-enhanced corn traits that: a) have been approved by the U.S. and Japan; and b) have faced delays of more than 30 months from any government with a non-functioning regulatory system.  By comparison, there are biotechnology traits that have been awaiting...

(Posted Tue. Jun 13th, 2017)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association brought the voice of farmers into important conversations on U.S. biotechnology regulations during the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service public comment meeting held at the University of California, Davis, earlier today. This session, which was the second of three, offered the opportunity to personally provide input on the part 340 proposed rule that would modify the science-based federal regulatory framework that regulates genetically engineered organisms use in agriculture.   NCGA Past president Leon Corzine and Freedom to Operate Action Team Vice Chair Brandon Hunnicutt both spoke during the meeting, providing insight into the impact such regulations have upon farmers. Drawing upon firsthand experience with the importance of biotech tools, they stressed the value farmers place on regulatory efficiency and transparency in a system based solidly in science. The farmer leaders then urged officials...

Tune In! CommonGround Volunteer Talks GMOs with Bill Nye

(Posted Fri. Apr 21st, 2017)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Binge watching and GMO-centric conversations come together today as Netflix premiers the first season of Bill Nye Saves the World. The show, which became available at 4 a.m. CDT today, features a panel discussion on the use of GMO technology in agriculture that includes CommonGround volunteer Julie Kenney in episode four “More Food, Less Hype.”   The episode looks at the science behind and fear surrounding biotechnology in agriculture. Presenting the scientific case for GMOs safety and importance as a tool for farmers, Nye explores the topic through interviews, experiments and the panel, which also includes Monsanto CTO Dr. Rob Fraley and North Carolina State University professor Dr. Fred Gould.   While the GMOs are not presented as the only, or even most important tool, it does address many misconceptions about GMOs, pesticide use, environmental impacts and the greater implications for the ecosystem. Stressing the importance of facts and not fear, this upbeat look at an...

(Posted Fri. Feb 10th, 2017)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Members of the National Corn Growers Association’s Freedom to Operate Action Team met in Tampa, Florida last week to review programs, budgets and policies associated with the association’s work in areas such as crop inputs, data and biotechnology. While there, the team met with representatives from across the value chain to explore upcoming challenges and opportunities.    Looking at a variety of issues, including goals set out in NCGA’s strategic plan can be achieved, the team used their in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to develop the nuanced, strategic suggestions needed to help the Corn Board guide NCGA policy effectively.   “Over my years working with both NCGA and our Illinois state corn association, I have come to truly appreciate the breadth and scope of the multitude of issues facing farmers today,” said Team Chair Don Duvall, a farmer from Illinois. “By developing teams with specialization in major areas of opportunity and taking the time to analyze the issues...

(Posted Wed. Jan 18th, 2017)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published documents today addressing the pre-market regulatory oversight of biotechnology-based agricultural tools. The National Corn Growers Association is pleased that the agency has included input given by NCGA and others throughout the rule-making process while focusing on the importance of science-based regulations.   Corn farmers have a strong interest in the availability of new technologies to enhance the sustainability, productivity and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture. Agriculture biotechnology and next generation breeding techniques allow growers to increase yields while decreasing inputs. Meeting demand, improving processes and minimizing environmental impacts are what make modern corn production a dynamic industry. The documents published indicate that, in large part, federal agencies agree with the basis of our stance and strive to create a more efficient regulatory process allowing...

(Posted Thu. Dec 8th, 2016)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association was pleased with today’s release of “A Framework for Local Coexistence Discussions.” This document, produced by the USDA’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology & 21st Century Agriculture (AC21), provides guidance on improving communications and ensuring the future success of the American system of agricultural coexistence.   For the full report, click here.   NCGA applauds the work of AC21 and recognizes the important role such cross-industry groups can play in achieving successful outcomes without the creation of unnecessary regulation.  Through this dialogue, many stakeholders involved in diverse agricultural production systems came together to better identify ways to foster communication and collaboration to further agricultural coexistence.   Furthermore, NCGA supports Secretary Vilsack’s attentive consideration of the issue of coexistence and his steady work to see this through to completion.   The continued coexistence of different...

(Posted Thu. Dec 8th, 2016)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Today, the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology released a report and literature review looking at problems caused by the current system of asynchronous approvals for biotech crops. The paper focuses on the economic effects in countries that are major global commodity exporters and importers. Overall, it concludes that asynchrony in the global approval of new biotech crops and the resultant risk of low level presence puts large volumes of trade worth billions of dollars at risk.   The increasing disparity in the biotech product approval timelines between exporting countries that utilize new technologies and large grain importing countries, in particular, is a significant and growing impediment to trade, specifically in the European Union and China.   As Task Force Chair Dr. Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes said, “How the world’s regulatory systems operate in the area of biotech crops is critically important to producers and consumers.”   The paper shares research...

(Posted Fri. Jul 29th, 2016)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association praised President Barack Obama today for signing into law an important agreement that protects America’s food supply from a harmful patchwork of state-level food labeling laws. The law will provide consumers with more information than ever before and ensure a transparent, national food labeling system.   “We are grateful to President Obama for swiftly signing into law a bill that is crucial for American farmers and consumers,” said National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling.  “His signature brings consistency to the marketplace and prevents the negative ramifications of conflicting state and national food labeling standards.”   America’s corn farmers, along with other family farmers across the country, rely on agricultural biotechnology to meet the demand of an ever-growing global population, while reducing their impact on the environment. The bill passed today ensures that mandatory, on-pack labels do not place an unwarranted...

(Posted Thu. Jul 14th, 2016)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association praised the U.S. House of Representatives for its vote today passing s. 764. Particularly, the association praised Chairmen Conaway and Roberts, Ranking Members Peterson and Stabenow, Congressmen Pompeo and Butterfield, and all of the members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle, who worked together to pass this bill.   Now, NCGA calls upon President Obama to quickly sign this bill into law, thus avoiding the negative impacts of Vermont’s law.   “Today, our representatives in the House built upon last week’s work in the Senate, taking another important step toward bringing consistency to the marketplace,’ said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Maryland. “This achievement was made possible as members of the food and agricultural value chain came together as never before to advance a solution that works for farmers, food companies and, most importantly, consumers.   “S. 764 ensures consumers have the access to product...

(Posted Wed. Jul 6th, 2016)

Keywords: Biotechnology

National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling released the following statement in response to the Senate’s cloture vote on the Roberts-Stabenow agreement:   “The National Corn Growers Association is pleased the cloture vote on the Roberts-Stabenow GMO labeling agreement received 65 votes, more than the 60 votes necessary to move the legislation forward. However, there is still important work that needs to be done. We urge the Senate to quickly take action and pass this legislation.”   Vermont’s mandatory law requiring on-package labels of foods containing ingredients that have been genetically modified went into effect last week. Congress needs to act now to avoid the chaos in the marketplace that will result from having different labeling standards from one state to the next. Multiple studies have shown that the costs associated with Vermont’s GMO-labeling law, and a subsequent patchwork of state laws, will cost American families hundreds of dollars more in...

(Posted Fri. Jul 1st, 2016)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association urges all farmers to contact their senators and ask for their support of the Roberts-Stabenow agreement on GMO labeling. An important vote on this legislation is scheduled for Wednesday of next week.  It is imperative that all those desiring a common-sense, federal solution to the growing threat of a patchwork of state labeling laws act now to ensure swift passage.   The Roberts-Stabenow agreement brings continuity to the marketplace, ensuring that consumers have the access to product information they deserve without stigmatizing this safe, proven technology valued by American farmers.   The need for Congressional action is real and urgent. State labeling mandates threaten to confuse consumers, drive up costs and significantly complicate the jobs of American farmers.   A patchwork of differing state labeling laws, each with their own requirements and exemptions, will increase consumer uncertainty, not resolve it, and be unworkable for...

(Posted Tue. May 17th, 2016)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Experts from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine again confirmed the safety and efficacy of genetically engineered crops for federal legislators and regulators during the event releasing the group’s new report titled Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects today.   Asserting that safety and nutritional value of GE crops, as well as their societal and economic benefits, the detailed report offers a basis to open a conversation on this technology based on objective evidence.   Competing claims and research that promote either the benefits or perceived risks of GE crops create a confusing landscape for both the public and for policy makers. This new report examines a range of questions and opinions about the economic, agronomic, health, safety, or other effects of genetically engineered crops and food. In doing so, it provides an independent, objective examination of the breadth of knowledge gained since the introduction of GE crops, based...

(Posted Wed. Mar 16th, 2016)

Keywords: biotechnology

National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling issued the following statement today in response to the Senate’s failure to pass Chairman Pat Roberts’ uniform, national food labeling standard:   “U.S. corn farmers are disappointed that, despite the clear demonstration of support from nearly 800 groups, the Senate failed to move this reasonable legislation forward. This legislation would have provided consumers with a greater amount of information in a consistent, clear manner. Farmers are committed to creating greater transparency in the food system, but we also need Congress to set clear, commonsense guidelines that are based in science and keep food affordable for American families.   “We still see the possibility for a bipartisan agreement on this in the near future, and will continue working with Chairman Roberts and Senator Stabenow to realize this possibility.   “The impending implementation of a patchwork of state labeling legislation will soon harm both the...

(Posted Tue. Mar 1st, 2016)

Keywords: biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association today thanked members of the Senate Agriculture Committee who voted to stand with farmers and move forward Sen. Pat Roberts’s bill to address the growing threat of a patchwork of state labeling laws and called for the full Senate to urgently take up this important legislation.   “We find the forward momentum building behind this bill encouraging, and we urge the Senate to quickly pass this bill for the good of America’s farmers and consumers,” said National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Maryland.  “U.S. farmers rely on GMOs, a safe, proven technology, to protect our crops from insects, weeds and drought. The FDA should remain the party responsible for important food safety and labeling decisions based in science. Despite the scientific evidence, states such as Vermont are quickly moving toward costly, confusing mandatory labeling legislation pushed forth by agenda-driven activists. We ask the Senate to quickly...

(Posted Fri. Feb 26th, 2016)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

The National Corn Growers Association explored solutions to food security challenges with leaders from academia, business and government in Indonesia during a meeting this week made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program and arranged by the Meridian International Center.   The group held discussions with NCGA as part of an overall agenda designed to expand knowledge of U.S. policies on food security, global hunger and sustainable economic development, with a focus on the important role of biotechnology in agricultural progress.   “One of the most often overlooked benefits of biotechnology in agriculture is its ability to significantly increase food security while improving production sustainability,” said NCGA Director of Biotechnology and Crop Inputs Nathan Fields. “The group’s questions showed their deep interest and willingness to explore the topic from a variety of angles. In particular, they demonstrated curiosity regarding...

(Posted Fri. Feb 19th, 2016)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association today applauded Sen. Pat Roberts for his introduction of a bill to address the growing threat of a patchwork of state labeling laws and called for the urgent passage of this important legislation.   “The introduction of Roberts’s proposal is an important first step to restoring sanity to America’s food labeling laws,” said National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Maryland.  “GMOs are perfectly safe and America’s farmers rely on this proven technology to protect our crops from insects, weeds and drought. Important food safety and labeling decisions should be made by the scientists and qualified policymakers at the FDA, not political activists and campaigns. Yet, despite the scientific evidence, states such as Vermont are quickly moving toward costly, confusing mandatory labeling legislation. It is imperative that the Senate takes up this issue quickly to avoid a situation in which all American consumers pay a...

(Posted Wed. Feb 3rd, 2016)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

Today, the National Corn Growers Association’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team wrapped up its spring meeting in Long Beach, Calif., where team members reviewed recommendations coming out of NCGA's Priority and Policy Conference held earlier in January and met with representatives from across the value chain to explore upcoming challenges and opportunities.    Looking at a variety of issues, including goals set out in NCGA’s strategic plan can be achieved, the team used their in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to develop the nuanced, strategic suggestions needed to help the Corn Board guide NCGA policy effectively.   “During the winter months, it can begin to feel like farmer leaders spend a large amount of time participating in meetings for a variety of agricultural groups,” said Team Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. “As my involvement has increased, I have come to even more fully appreciate the breadth and scope of the myriad issues facing farmers...

(Posted Wed. Feb 3rd, 2016)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association is pleased to see continued increase in adoption of refuge- in-a-bag (integrated refuge) products, simplifying growers’ refuge requirements in the Corn Belt. According to the annual Compliance Assurance Program results, all growers surveyed in the Corn Belt planted at least one refuge in a bag product, and many growers planted exclusively refuge-in-a-bag products.   The CAP, implemented by Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee, is designed to improve compliance with EPA-mandated Insect Resistance Management requirements and includes on-farm refuge assessments, an online survey, IRM education and awareness.   Adoption of refuge in a bag products results in automatic compliance in the Corn Belt Highlights of the survey indicate a strong adoption of refuge-in-a-bag products, which include Bt and refuge seed interspersed in a single bag or container. “We are pleased to see that growers have rapidly adopted refuge-in-a-bag...

(Posted Fri. Jan 29th, 2016)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association is optimistic that growers will have a new tool available in their struggles with resistant weeds next year. In an unconventional series of events, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to review the registration of Enlist Duo, a herbicide developed by Dow Agrosciences to aid in the fight against hard to control weeds.   The court chose to ask for a more robust review instead of denying the Agency’s request to scrap or vacate the herbicide’s registration. This science based path forward denies the requests both of the environmental groups who brought the suit and the EPA. .   “While we find this a positive development, we are tempering our optimism as concerns remain over pending lawsuits against Enlist Duo,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. “In our continual fight against weeds, farmers need new tools to become available in a timely...

(Posted Mon. Nov 23rd, 2015)

Keywords: Biotechnology

National Corn Growers Association Trade Policy and Biotechnology Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio, and Director of Biotechnology and Crop Inputs Nathan Fields took part in a meeting hosted by the Biotechnology Regulatory Service to share with stakeholders how the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to approach new rulemaking around part 340. This section of code, which is used to regulate the approval and deregulation of biotechnology products, is currently under review by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, under which BRS falls.   “We are encouraged that the USDA reached out to stakeholders in this way, keeping them updated in a timely manner as the review process proceeds,” said Linder. “By decreasing unnecessarily burdensome processes and delays, while maintaining the highest level of safety and careful review, USDA will help farmers gain access to the cutting edge products that they need to face ever-evolving challenges in the fields.”   In describing...

(Posted Thu. Nov 19th, 2015)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association today thanked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for issuing science-based, reasonable guidance on voluntary labeling for foods with ingredients from genetically engineered sources. This guidance, which importantly stresses that the Agency only has purview to require mandatory labels in the case of material difference, addresses consumer interests with a clear outline of recommendations for food companies wishing to label their products.   “The FDA’s approach to voluntary labeling of food products would provide American consumers with truthful information in a clear manner that respects regulatory processes already in place,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “In maintaining a science- and process-based approach to mandatory labels while laying out a thoughtful, conscientious path for voluntary labeling, the FDA stood firmly both with the people who grow our food and those who buy it. A voluntary labeling...

(Posted Wed. Oct 28th, 2015)

Keywords: Biotechnology

As the Take Action educational campaign continues to evolve and grow, Take Action has partnered with the Weed Science Society of America to create a series of infographics that help farmers make informed herbicide-management decisions.   Those resources newly added to the online tool kit include:  Economics of Herbicide Resistance illustrates the benefits of proactive resistance management, specifically with horseweed, and how proactive management can substantially increase farm profits long-term. Field Identification and Control of Suspected Herbicide-Resistant Weeds walks farmers though what resistance looks like, what causes herbicide failure and what farmers should be doing now if they suspect herbicide resistance. Best Management Practices for Herbicide Resistance walks farmers through 12 BMPs. How to Use the Herbicide Classification Chart helps farmers understand and better utilize the most important tool for taking action against their worst weeds.   Take Action...

(Posted Wed. Oct 21st, 2015)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association urged the Senate to act quickly to pass a uniform, national food labeling standard in light of today’s Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, highlighting the safety of genetically modified ingredients and the importance of biotechnology.   “NCGA and Congress agree: consumers should have access to food choices that are safe, nutritious, abundant and affordable,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair John Linder,  a farmer from Edison, Ohio. “Congress, and only Congress, can now prevent a costly and confusing patchwork of state labeling laws from taking effect next year. The Senate must act now to avoid the negative consequences inaction will surely bring for consumers and farmers across the country.”   Experts told the Committee that the overwhelming scientific consensus is that genetically modified organisms are safe for consumers and the environment. Experts also testified on the vital role biotechnology plays in...

(Posted Fri. Oct 2nd, 2015)

Keywords: biotechnology

Representatives from MAIZALL, an international maize alliance that includes the National Corn Growers Association, were in Europe this week to engage key European Union stakeholders on issues concerning biotechnology, market access and agricultural sustainability.   “Europe remains a challenge on biotechnology and market access but even in Europe, there is support – especially in the livestock and feed industries – for progress on these key issues,” said Sergio Bortolozzo, president of MAIZALL. “The EU is also very concerned with environmental sustainability, and biotechnology is one of the biggest tools we have to reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture. “MAIZALL allows the three major corn exporting countries of the Americas to speak with one voice on these issues. We are visiting the Netherlands, Germany and Italy this week to answer our critics, seek common ground with our allies and seek progress on meeting global demand in an environmentally sound...

(Posted Mon. Aug 3rd, 2015)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

Last week, the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance’s Domestic Working Group held a technology meeting in Montreal to recommit to address any worldwide asynchrony regulatory risks associated with the commercial possibilities for biotechnology during the next three years. During the meeting, representatives from all parts of the value chain worked together, creating an understanding of both the biotechnology derived products which have or may gain U.S. regulatory approval, their international approval status and possible market risks in an attempt to help farmers understand the status of new products in world markets before they plant these varieties.   Held in conjunction with the U.S. Grains Council’s Annual Board of Delegates Meeting, USBCA laid the groundwork for ongoing discussions on how to move forward as an industry that simultaneously values farmer access to valuable biotechnology-based tools and export markets for their end product. The discussions will continue this December...

(Posted Thu. Jul 23rd, 2015)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association today praised the U.S. House of Representatives for passage of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. This important legislation will create a consumer-friendly, science-based labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified organisms, as well as for GMO-free foods.   “Bipartisan support for this legislation, evident on the floor during today’s House vote, continues to grow” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. “We applaud the House for tackling this critical issue head on, and now urge the Senate to act as soon as possible”   Introduced by Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., a group of 106 Democrats and Republicans have cosponsored the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. This legislation sets a uniform, common-sense national standard for labeling foods with GMOs and for GMO-free foods.   “We must pass federal legislation this year to avoid...

(Posted Tue. Jul 14th, 2015)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association today praised the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s approval of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act and called for action by the full House. This important legislation will create a consumer-friendly, science-based labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified organisms, as well as for GMO-free foods.   “The committee approval of this legislation sends a strong message about the growing bipartisan support for this legislation,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. “We believe today’s vote builds strong forward momentum and applaud the efforts of the House Agriculture Committee to tackle this issue head on. Now, we urge our congressional leaders to bring this bill up for a vote on the floor before the August recess.”   Introduced by Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., 69 Democrats and Republicans have cosponsored the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling...

(Posted Thu. Jun 18th, 2015)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Today, the National Corn Growers Association applauded the House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee for holding an important hearing on the bipartisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act and demonstrating the urgent need for legislation that would establish uniform, science-based food labeling standards. Introduced by Congressmen Mike Pompeo and G.K. Butterfield, the bill has already attracted 60 cosponsors, including 12 Democrats.    Entitled “A National Framework for the Review and Labeling of Biotechnology in Food,” the hearing provided members with an opportunity to learn about the role genetic engineering plays in our nation’s food supply. Additionally, the hearing delved into state-specific labeling regulations and their potential impact on interstate commerce and consumers.   To read the updated legislative language circulating at the time of the hearing, click here.   “America’s corn farmers are pleased that the bill is receiving support from both political...

(Posted Tue. Jun 2nd, 2015)

Keywords: Biotechnology Production

National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling and American Soybean Association Chairman Ray Gaesser issued the following statement in anticipation of a second finding by the International Agency for Research on Cancer that would classify another safe, important pesticide as a probable carcinogen:   “Like anyone who creates something, farmers need tools to produce a safe and healthy crop.  Today, many consumers have questions and concerns about how food is produced.  That’s why it is important to us to share information with consumers so they have a better understanding of why and how we use the different seeds and crop protection chemicals. We are concerned, however, that a pending announcement from the U.N. World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer will only lead to more confusion and concern about two widely-used herbicides that have been mainstays for farmers for decades. These two substances play an especially important role in corn...

(Posted Thu. May 28th, 2015)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

Last week, the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance’s Board of Directors met in Washington to recommit to the alliance and update the business plan. During the meeting, representatives from all parts of the value chain worked together, reviewing working group findings and planning for a future meeting to address the future of biotechnology and potential market impacts.   Both the Domestic Working Group and the International Working Group reported back to the board on their progress over the past year. Progress by the International Working Group was found to be particularly encouraging, as it managed to elevate issues related to biotechnology and trade to the president’s agenda on his most recent trip to China. Additionally, it became evident that the group’s work has established USBCA as the go-to resource for the U.S. government on all issues related to agricultural biotechnology and trade.   Established under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2012, the USBCA already has...

(Posted Tue. May 26th, 2015)

Keywords: biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association is encouraged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s positive initial review, released late Friday, of Monsanto 87411, a product utilizing RNAi technology to combat corn rootworm pressure. The initial reports, which indicated the product does not pose either a plant pest or environmental risk, are a first step toward getting this critical technology to market in a quick and safe fashion.   “We applaud the USDA for moving this new mode of action closer to availability to farmers,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. “As insect pressures continue to grow, a new tool such as this will enable us to better combat pests while growing a healthy, abundant corn crop.”   USDA has suggested deregulation of this product based upon the positive results of this draft environmental assessment and plant pest risk assessment, thus helping ensure safety while also moving forward in an expeditious...

(Posted Fri. Apr 10th, 2015)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Lifetime TV welcomes CommonGround Iowa volunteer Julie Kenney to its morning program The Balancing Act next Friday to further an ongoing conversation between the American moms on and off of the farm. Kenney will answer questions and address concerns about food safety and the benefits of GMOs while clearing up myths surrounding organically grown foods and conventionally grown foods.   This is the first of a two-segment mini-series in which The Balancing Act features conversations with volunteers from CommonGround, an effort designed to get women talking about farming and food. It builds upon a previous four-part series that ran in the winter of 2014. CommonGround provides a way for moms looking for answers about food to connect with moms who grow and raise it and get real, credible information.    “I want mothers to know that I feed my family the same foods that they do. The Balancing Act provides a great forum to connect with moms across the country and let them know that...

(Posted Tue. Mar 17th, 2015)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

As planting season gets underway in southern parts of the country, the National Corn Growers Association reminds growers to visit its updated version of the “Know Before Your Grow” website. The newly revamped site offer growers important new information to help inform planting decisions in light of the release of new seed varieties currently unapproved in some export markets.   “In a globalized agricultural economy, it is important that farmers understand the delicate balance that must be struck between ensuring access to the technologies while also safeguarding export markets remain open to U.S. corn,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair John Linder, an Ohio farmer. “Both biotechnology and export markets play a key role in maintaining profitability. Making decisions based in solid information will be key to maintaining profitability moving forward.”   NCGA stands solidly true to its policy in maintaining all new events must have approval in the United...

(Posted Mon. Feb 2nd, 2015)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology

Today, the National Corn Growers Association’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team began its spring meeting in Houston, Texas, where team members reviewed recommendations coming out of the Priority and Policy meeting held earlier in January and met with representatives from academia and industry to explore upcoming challenges and opportunities.    Looking at a variety of issues, including how to best support agricultural exports, stress the importance of respecting refuge requirements and facilitate successful communication across the value-chain on their issues, the team will use their in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to develop the nuanced, strategic suggestions needed to help the Corn Board guide NCGA policy effectively.   “During the winter months, it can begin to feel like farmer leaders spend a large amount of time participating in meetings for a variety of agricultural groups,” said Team Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. “As my involvement has...

(Posted Tue. Dec 30th, 2014)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology

This December, the National Corn Growers Association’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team met in St. Louis to review the organization’s policy in their area of expertise, discuss progress on several ongoing programs and hear from industry representatives about upcoming challenges and opportunities.    Looking at a variety of issues, including how to best support agricultural exports, stress the importance of respecting refuge requirements and facilitate successful communication across the value-chain on their issues, the team will use their in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to develop the nuanced, strategic suggestions needed to help the Corn Board guide NCGA policy effectively.   “During the winter months, it can begin to feel like farmer leaders spend a large amount of time participating in meetings for a variety of agricultural groups,” said Team Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. “As my involvement has increased, I have come to even-more fully appreciate...

(Posted Wed. Dec 10th, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association applauded the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health for holding a hearing today regarding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s role in regulating GMOs and the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. The hearing serves to advance an ongoing open, transparent conversation about the importance of this technology both to farmers and consumers. Furthermore, it highlighted that a science-based federal solution to the labeling debate is necessary to provide all parties with the certainty that they need.   “With activist and special interest groups continually attempting to impose state-level measures that would lead to further confusion and increase grocery bills for American consumers, this hearing is an important step toward a real solution,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. “Food labeling decisions should be left to scientific experts and not dictate by agenda-driven activists. We hope...

(Posted Wed. Oct 15th, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association applauds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of Dow AgroSciences 2,4-D herbicide, a part of the ENLIST system. This approval, which follows USDA’s September approval of corn and soybean varieties designed to tolerate this herbicide, will provide farmers with a valuable tool to combat instances of weed resistance.   “The battle for approval of all components of this important technology has taken both determination and patience,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair John Linder, a farmer from Edison, Ohio. “This final step should place a necessary, new tool in the hands of corn and soybean farmers in immediate need of new systems to combat growing weed pressures throughout the Corn and Cotton Belts.”   The decision, which posted to the regulatory docket today, states that the decision reflected "a large body of science and an understanding of the risk of pesticides.” Noting that the herbicide met...

(Posted Wed. Oct 1st, 2014)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology

Yesterday, the National Corn Growers Association joined with 12 other organizations representing farmers and agribusiness in sending a letter urging President Obama to keep Chinese agricultural biotechnology policy and its impact on U.S. crop exports to China in mind as he prepares for the 2014 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit.   During the summit, hosted by the People’s Republic of China, the group asked the Administration to remain aware of the harmful impact China’s current policies continue to have on America’s farmers as well as the importance of this market.   “The Chinese market for U.S. grains and oilseeds is incredibly important to the viability of the U.S. agricultural economy,” the letter explained.  “China is the largest U.S. export market for soybeans, $14 billion in 2013 and corn and corn product exports were roughly $3.5 billion.   “Agricultural biotechnology is also important to U.S. farmers, with acreage for biotechnology varieties of...

(Posted Tue. Sep 23rd, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

The National Corn Growers Association has launched an online campaign reminding growers of the importance of properly channeling grain this harvest. Through a series of online placements on AgWeb.com, email blasts and text message alerts, the association will focus farmer attention during this critical harvest period, running from mid-September through early November.   “NCGA’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team always stresses the importance of balancing access to technology and export markets,” explained team chair Jim Zimmerman, who farmers near Rosendale, Wis. “The Know Before You Grow online tool plays an important role in this by empowering growers with the knowledge that they need to make educated decisions. With a potentially record crop on the way, it is more important than ever that we all work together to grow markets and maintain access to the products that allow us to provide such an abundance.”   Know Before You Grow stems from NCGA’s firm commitment to...

(Posted Wed. Sep 17th, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association applauds the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s approval of Dow AgroSciences 2,4-D and glyphosate-resistant corn, a part of the ENLIST system. This approval, which will still require U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval of the accompanying pesticide before the system comes to market, represents the first time in which USDA approved a crop modified to be resistant to more than one herbicide.   “Gaining approval for this important technology has been a long, hard fought battle,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman, a farmer from Rosendale, Wis. “It is important that farmers continue to gain access to the tools that they need in the field through a science-based, timely regulatory system. We look forward to similar results for other herbicide systems in the future.”   The decision, which posted to the regulatory docket on Tuesday, states that USDA finds no issues with the release of the crop. USDA...

(Posted Tue. Sep 16th, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Ohio corn grower John Linder, a member of the National Corn Growers Association’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team, testified before  a committee of the National Research Council (NRC) on the importance of innovation and biotechnology to agricultural production during  a hearing Monday. The hearing, which was held in Washington, was part of a broader review of crop biotechnology.   “Farmers take pride in producing food not only for American families but also for our own,” Linder testified. “Modern biotechnology provides American farmers with safe and sustainable ways to protect our crops, allowing us to continue producing the safest, most reliable food supply in the world.”   Linder, who grows both genetically modified and non-genetically modified crops, spoke with committee members about the impact he had personally witnessed growing biotech crops on his farm.   “We are dry land farmers. I can say with confidence that my dad would be shocked at the production we...

(Posted Thu. Sep 11th, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association is pleased that the Environmental Protection Agency indicated it will provide flexibility for farmers in Herbicide Resistance Management (HRM) plans for new herbicide products, a position which NCGA has strongly urged.   “By moving toward a more flexible, yet still effective stance, the EPA made progress toward a set of real world solutions to an important issue,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman, who farms in Wisconsin. “The circumstances farmers across the country encounter in terms of herbicide resistance vary widely, thus the tools which farmers must use to respond to them must be tailored to effectively address the specifics of that farm. Farmers want to act as good stewards of both their environment and technology. By allowing for flexibility, the EPA can help them do so.”   During the Weed Science Society of America’s Herbicide Resistance summit hosted by the National Academies of Science...

(Posted Tue. Sep 9th, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association reminds growers of the importance of properly channeling grain this harvest, particularly that planted as part of the Right to Grow system for limited release of Duracade.   The Right to Grow system tightly controlled the sale of seed corn produced using Duracade technology in a vigorous attempt to keep it out of export channels and limited the amount of Duracade released to ensure corn grown could be effectively managed by the trait provider. Through a marketing agreement signed with Gavilon, Right to Grow provides a specified marketing channel for all corn grown with Duracade technology and acts as another line of assurance farmers will be able to steward their grain into proper channels.   NCGA urges growers to double recheck any seed plots on farms or contracted with third parties to verify that they know what precisely has been planted and ensure sensitive varieties are properly stewarded into appropriate channels. NCGA also offers a...

(Posted Wed. Sep 3rd, 2014)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology

Japan is consistently among the world’s leaders in biotechnology regulation, boasting a system that is science-based and, therefore, effective, timely and transparent. This does not happen by accident. Among the key contributing factors are the sophistication and scientific integrity of the regulatory teams that implement the system.   To help sustain this benchmark of success within one of our most important trading partners, the U.S. Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member, was privileged last week to host a team of Japanese biotechnology regulatory officials, who were visiting the United States to learn about the latest developments in the field.   “In Japan, many central government officials, including biotechnology regulatory officials, rotate to different positions every two to four years,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan. “This keeps people fresh, and helps make sure they don’t get stuck in a rut. But it also means...

(Posted Wed. May 28th, 2014)

Keywords: biotechnology

Last week, the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member, held its inaugural board meeting in Washington. The culmination of years of effort, USBCA members elected a formal executive committee and adopted its Business Plan and Operating Structure during the meeting.   The original Executive Committee was expanded in the formation of the official structure to include additional representation for growers and representation for processors. The 2014-2015 Executive Committee now includes eight: Barry Bushue, American Farm Bureau Federation; Andrew LaVigne, American Seed Trade Association; Steve Censky, American Soybean Association; Cathleen Enright, Biotechnology Industry Organization; Rick Tolman, National Corn Growers Association; Tom Hammer, National Oilseed Producers Association; Gary Martin, North American Export Grain Association; and Tom Sleight, U.S. Grains Council.   Through the business plan, USBCA formalized its...

(Posted Thu. May 22nd, 2014)

Keywords: biotechnology

As the Maize Genetics and Genomics Database project moves forward, Off the Cob caught up with MGGDB Curator Dr. Jack Gardiner for an update on the progress made over the past few months. In the interview, Gardiner explained the newest project that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service-supported database in Ames, Iowa, has undertaken to develop translational data.   Gardiner begins with an explanation of what translational data actually is.   “We always have lots of projects to choose from at MaizeGGDB. So, we try to focus on projects which will be of most use to our user community, which is primarily composed of maize breeders and geneticists,” said Gardiner. “Since we are primarily supported by the USDA-Agricultural Research Service and the National Corn Growers, we try and further narrow our focus on data sets that we hope will translational.  By translational, I mean data sets that will hopefully translate into real world solutions such as...

(Posted Wed. Apr 2nd, 2014)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology Video

The second video in a six-part miniseries debuts today at the National Corn Growers Association’s YouTube page, talking about the importance of biotechnology to corn farmers as they seek ways to help feed and fuel a growing world population.   “By the year 2050, we will need to have doubled our output for the food supply,” said Jim Zimmerman, chairman of NCGA’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. “We know it’s going to take a lot more work, and we need to have the public understand what we’re doing and why we’re trying to do it.”   Zimmerman talks about how NCGA works with agribusiness on resistance issues, is involved in coalitions to educate the public,  like CommonGround and GMO Answers, and the connection to trade policy. He also defends the importance of science.   “Sound science is key to our regulatory system, and agriculture is all about science,” he said. “When we use sound science, it creates clarity of thought so that, when decisions are made, it will add...

(Posted Mon. Feb 3rd, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology

  Continued Strong Adoption of Integrated Refuge Products Provide Compliance Convenience   The National Corn Growers Association announced today that it is pleased the enhanced Compliance Assurance Program is seeing strong success. The program,  which includes on-farm refuge assessments, an online survey and IRM education and awareness, has documented an increase in both the overall  number of growers planting proper corn refuge and use of integrated refuge products.    The CAP aims to improve compliance with Insect Resistance Management requirements. The Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee, a consortium of Bt corn registrants, submits an annual CAP report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describing industry-coordinated compliance assurance efforts for Bt traits.   Adoption of integrated refuge products result in automatic compliance in the Corn Belt   Highlights of the survey indicate a strong adoption of integrated refuge products, which...

(Posted Tue. Dec 24th, 2013)

Keywords: CommonGround Biotechnology GMO

Dec. 24: Lifetime TV welcomes CommonGround Iowa volunteer Sara Ross to its morning program The Balancing Act this Thursday to further an ongoing conversation between the American moms on and off of the farm. Ross will answer questions and address concerns about food safety and the benefits of GMOs while clearing up myths surrounding organically grown foods and conventionally grown foods.   This is the third of a four-segment mini-series in which The Balancing Act features conversations with volunteers from CommonGround, an effort designed to get women talking about farming and food. CommonGround provides a way for moms looking for answers about food to connect with moms who grow and raise it and get real, credible information.    “I want mothers to know that I feed my family the same foods that they do. The Balancing Act provides a great forum to connect with moms across the country and let them know that farmers just like me want to share the story behind how American food is...

(Posted Wed. Dec 18th, 2013)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology

Dec. 18: Members of the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance, a collaborative effort to improve the environment for technology innovation and the market for U.S. crops produced through modern biotechnology, met in Washington this week to discuss recent progress and plan for the future. In addition to examining the next steps necessary toward achievement of overall goals, the group invited additional commodities to attend and is considering expanding to include canola, cotton and wheat representation and others in the value chain.   “USBCA represents the culmination of a sustained, targeted effort to ensure better communication throughout the value chain, and it is exciting to be at a point where we can consider even further expanding our scope to benefit an even broader section of U.S. farmers,” said National Corn Growers Association Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman, who attended the meeting along with Corn Board Liaison Kevin Skunes. “In today’s global...

(Posted Wed. Dec 18th, 2013)

Keywords: CommonGround Biotechnology GMOs

Dec. 18: Lifetime TV welcomes CommonGround Iowa volunteer Sara Ross to its morning program The Balancing Act tomorrow to further an ongoing conversation between the American moms on and off of the farm. Ross will answer questions and address concerns about food safety and the benefits of GMOs while clearing up myths surrounding organically grown foods and conventionally grown foods.   This is the third of a four-segment mini-series in which The Balancing Act features conversations with volunteers from CommonGround, an effort designed to get women talking about farming and food. CommonGround provides a way for moms looking for answers about food to connect with moms who grow and raise it and get real, credible information.    “I want mothers to know that I feed my family the same foods that they do. The Balancing Act provides a great forum to connect with moms across the country and let them know that farmers just like me want to share the story behind how American food is grown...

(Posted Tue. Nov 19th, 2013)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology MAIZALL

Nov. 19: The first international MAIZALL mission is underway in Asia this week, bringing representatives of corn farmers from the United States, Argentina and Brazil to South Korea and China for meetings with key industry and government officials. The team, which includes National Corn Growers Association Chairwoman and MAIZALL board member Pam Johnson, will discuss issues important to both parties including biotechnology, current corn production, product regulatory issues and domestic farming practices.   Launched in the spring of 2013, MAIZALL is a voluntary, non-governmental organization representing grower organizations in major exporting countries interested in the international trade in corn. Currently, the group includes the National Corn Growers Association, the U.S. Grains Council, ABRAMHILO and MAIZAR, the national corn producers’ organizations of Brazil and Argentina respectively. While all three countries are now, and will remain, vigorous competitors, the three also...

(Posted Tue. Aug 27th, 2013)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Aug. 27: This week, the National Corn Growers Association brought the corn farmers perspective on American agriculture to an international group of an agronomists and soil scientists hosted by the International Fertilizer Development Center in St. Louis. Addressing participants from 10 nations, NCGA Vice President of Production and Utilization Paul Bertels and Director of Biotechnology and Economic Analysis Nathan Fields shared an overview of American agriculture focusing on production techniques, crop conditions and biotechnology as part of an effort to help participants find farming advances which might be useful in their home countries.   “NCGA helps not only farmers abroad but also those here in the United States by engaging in dialogues such as this,” said Bertels. “As international agricultural leaders come to understand how modern techniques and technologies benefit our country and see the broad public acceptance of them, we foster greater acceptance internationally. These...

(Posted Tue. Aug 6th, 2013)

Keywords: Biotechnology

It’s no secret: the biotechnology industry hasn’t done the best job communicating about GMOs. That’s about to change with GMO Answers, a new joint initiative by the agricultural and biotechnology companies that create genetically modified seeds, now endorsed by the National Corn Growers Association. The GMOAnswers.com website is a new resource committed to transparency about the use of GMOs in agriculture, research and data – all in one public place for the first time.   “As corn farmers, we recognize the important role biotechnology plays in providing healthy food choices for all,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson. “At the same time, we witness first-hand groundless attacks on biotechnology by extremists, and a deeper public interest in sincerely learning more about GMOs. GMO Answers goes a long way in helping today’s families understand today’s agriculture.”   New research shows that there is a need for this conversation: 49 percent of people surveyed either don’t know or are...

(Posted Tue. Jul 30th, 2013)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology

July 30:  A travelling group of journalists representing major Japanese news outlets visited the offices of the National Corn Growers Association today, to learn about corn farming in the United States and specifically about the use of biotechnology.   “It’s always great to welcome visitors from countries to which we export U.S. corn,” said NCGA Director of Biotechnology and Economic Analysis Nathan Fields, who spoke with the group about biotech trends. “Japan is the largest export market for our farmers, and understands the importance of biotechnology in today’s agriculture. These reporters were eager to learn about how American farming works to help feed and fuel the world.”   The journalists represented news media with a combined circulation of about 27 million, representing the Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun and Japan Food Journal newspapers, as well as the Jiji Press news service. The group is traveling through the...

(Posted Thu. Jul 25th, 2013)

Keywords: Biotechnology

July 25: This week National Corn Growers Association Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman participated on a panel at the U.S. State Department National Foreign Affairs Training Center.  Zimmerman was the only agriculture producer to be invited to speak during the State Department’s course.  The panel focused on biotechnology and global challenges related to trade, food security, energy and climate change.   “With a rapidly growing world population it will be necessary to produce as much food in the next 50 years as was produced in all recorded history, making biotechnology in agriculture more important now than ever before,” Zimmerman said.  “Better seed technology provides farmers choices to cope with new and emerging challenges such as difficult weather conditions, plant diseases and pests. In addition, the benefits of biotechnology not only include increased yields but also decreased use of water and fertilizer, allowing our farmers to produce more...

(Posted Wed. May 8th, 2013)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology

May 8: Today, the National Corn Growers Association expressed appreciation to Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for co-authoring a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack and USTR Acting Ambassador Marantis addressing international regulatory challenges for agricultural products derived from biotechnology. Biotech varieties accounted for 88 percent of corn planted in 2012. As the world’s leading exporter of corn, NCGA strongly supports efforts to ensure the uninterrupted flow of corn and corn co-products in the international marketplace. The letter identifies regulatory asynchrony, zero tolerance policies and re-registration requirements as costly regulatory barriers. It also acknowledges efforts currently underway by USDA and USTR to engage trading partners on these issues. “Biotechnology is a critical tool for farmers to help manage pressure from weather, pests and weeds,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson, a farmer from Floyd, Iowa. “We need to elevate the...

(Posted Thu. May 2nd, 2013)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology

May 2: Key members of the U.S. agricultural value chain have joined together to applaud the work of the United States and like-minded governments to promote the importance of science-based regulations to facilitate trade of agricultural commodities derived from agricultural biotechnology. In a joint statement, the United States was joined by the governments of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Paraguay to announce their intention to work collaboratively to remove global barriers to the trade of agricultural biotechnology and promote science-based, transparent and predictable regulatory approaches. The American Seed Trade Association, American Soybean Association, Biotechnology Industry Organization, North American Export Grain Association, National Corn Growers Association, and National Grain and Feed Association said they welcome the leadership of the U.S. government, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United States Trade Representative, and U.S. Department...

(Posted Thu. Apr 4th, 2013)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology

Apr. 4: This week, the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association convened key industry stakeholders to continue a dialogue on ways to improve cooperation and communication on biotechnology and trade issues. The discussions highlighted a broad array of opportunities to establish improved, more transparent communication regarding issues that potentially threaten the development, production or delivery of products derived from modern crop biotechnology. “We are encouraged that all parts of the biotech value chain are committed to cooperative discussions that ensure growers have the tools they need to deliver a reliable product that meets our customers’ needs,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman. Attendees discussed challenges and opportunities from both a domestic and international viewpoint. As agricultural biotechnology becomes an increasingly critical component of our nation’s bioeconomy, representatives...

(Posted Wed. Mar 27th, 2013)

Keywords: Biotechnology Exports Trade

Mar. 27: Farmers looking for information about the approval status of U.S.-grown corn hybrids in certain export markets now have access to the most current data through the National Corn Growers Association’s Know Before Your Grow program. Recently updated, Know Before Your Grow, featured on the association’s website, provides a comprehensive look at this vital information in an easily accessible format. “It’s important for farmers and others to know where they can find good markets for their corn,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman. “Each year, we update our database so growers can stay informed and plan ahead. It’s also a valuable tool for others who want or need to track which markets are accepting a certain corn hybrid.” Know Before You Grow stems from NCGA’s firm commitment to the principle that U.S.-grown biotech hybrids not intended for some export markets should not be placed into export channels. Because not all hybrids are...

(Posted Mon. Mar 11th, 2013)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Mar. 11: The National Corn Growers Association is pleased to announce that it has become a signatory to the Accord: Generic Event Marketability and Access Agreement. Along with NCGA, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Soybean Association also became signatories to the GEMMA portion of the Accord, which was created by Biotechnology Industry Organization and the American Seed Trade Association. “Having the Farm Bureau, ASA and NCGA as signatories to the GEMAA is a major step forward for the Accord,” said BIO Executive Vice President Cathleen Enright. “All three organizations have been key players in the development of the GEMAA and we welcome their commitment to the Accord process.” “We’ve aimed to create an agreement that would enable national farm organizations to participate, so growers can have a role in the process and get access to important information about patent expiration and these organizations have been key stakeholders from the beginning of this...

(Posted Fri. Feb 1st, 2013)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Feb. 1:  The National Corn Growers Association is pleased to announce that the enhanced Compliance Assurance Program, which includes on-farm refuge assessments, an online survey and IRM education and awareness, is seeing strong success and an increase in the number of growers planting their corn refuge. The CAP is designed to improve compliance with Insect Resistance Management requirements. The Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee, a consortium of Bt corn registrants, submits an annual CAP report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describing industry-coordinated compliance assurance efforts for Bt traits. In 2011, ABSTC launched a new IRM on-farm assessment program that focuses more assessments on growers who may not have purchased sufficient refuge seed according to their purchase records. “The on-farm assessment process has proven to be an effective mechanism to identify Bt corn growers who are not following refuge requirements and provide...

(Posted Wed. Dec 12th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

By Rick Tolman  CEO, National Corn Growers Association  General Mills, the maker of Cheerios and other foods, is catching grief from a small group of Internet bullies because of its use of genetically engineered ingredients.  Oddly and ironically enough, these social media loudmouths have chosen a product that is predominantly made from oats, a commodity that is not genetically modified. But of course, Cheerios was not targeted because it may contain GMOs, but because it is the most popular cereal brand General Mills produces and they are trying to bully General Mills into an anti-GM stance.  Over on the Facebook page for Wheaties, there’s no GMO mention. Likewise at the Lucky Charms page.  One of the comments over on Facebook about the GMO labeling issue is that “The people have spoken.” The fact is, the people have spoken, but these extreme activists have not listened, nor are they listening now.  While there is no doubt that consumers do want transparency and to be informed...

(Posted Wed. Dec 5th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Dec. 5: The National Corn Growers Association reminds farmers that early refuge planning helps ensure a smooth planting season. As many complete planting planning, the time to make concrete preparations is now.  “Refuge planning is important for all farmers because it supports the continued viability of important tools,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmermann. “While seed companies work hard to keep a pipeline of new products flowing, it is important that farmers keep up their end of the bargain too. Early planning makes meeting refuge requirements much simpler once planting season arrives.”  Farmers should first consider the type of refuge solution they will use next year. Most major technology providers now offer integrated refuge solutions that will ensure compliance. Farmers planning to plant refuge in a block should secure refuge seed now.  While proper refuge planning can be confusing given the host of differing requirements associated...

(Posted Tue. Nov 20th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Nov 20: With the failure of a California ballot initiative to require labeling of some foods with biotech ingredients, the National Corn Growers Association reiterated its support of federal efforts to provide guidance for voluntary labeling that indicates whether goods have been developed using biotechnology.  “We were pleased voters in California saw through this misleading campaign,” NCGA President Pam Johnson said. “Roughly 70 percent of food in the grocery store contains a biotech ingredient.  We know this effort won’t be the last to try and mandate labeling, but it is a significant step in the right direction.”  Proposition 37 would have forced farmers, food producers and grocers to implement record keeping and labeling mandates that no other state or country requires. They would also be forced to keep special records for tens of thousands of products in order to prove whether or not the products contain biotech ingredients.  In 2012, biotech acres made up 88 percent of...

(Posted Fri. Oct 26th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

Oct. 26: The National Corn Growers Association recognizes the European Union for opening its markets to U.S. corn-based ethanol co-products, including distillers dried grains with solubles and corn gluten feed, through the official approval of MIR 162 Agrisure Viptera, a Syngenta corn variety.  The decision follows years of industry leadership and efforts orchestrated by the U.S. Grains Council, of which NCGA is a founding member, and its partners in the EU, including grain trade association COCERAL, feed millers association FEFAC and the Irish Feed Millers Association.  “This approval is a great success as it opens the window of opportunity for U.S. products, including DDGS and CGF, to enter the EU market,” said USGC Senior Regional Director Cary Sifferath, who is based in Tunis. “This is especially attractive in big markets like Ireland, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. Their ability to import these high-protein feed ingredients is critical at a time of crop shortage in...

(Posted Thu. Oct 25th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Oct. 25: It is hard to ignore the fact that the topics of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and biotechnology are getting a lot of attention. Every day there seems to be more information from all kinds of sources bombarding people about GMOs and biotech. How do consumers know what to believe?  As people raising America’s food, CommonGround farmer-volunteers want to assure grocery shoppers that biotechnology is not something to worry about or fear. Plants and seeds have been genetically altered by farmers for the last 10,000 years through selective breeding. Modern biotechnology simply offers a quicker, more efficient path to accomplishing the same goals.  According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, today’s food biotechnology tools include traditional breeding techniques, such as cross-breeding. Other more modern methods involve using what we know about genes, or instructions for specific traits, to improve the quantity and quality of plant species. In...

(Posted Thu. Sep 20th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Sept. 20: Yesterday, a group of primarily French researchers published a paper questioning the safety of Roundup Ready corn and glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup. The National Corn Growers Association, after reviewing this study, has concluded that the research is questionable, at best, and does not offer credible evidence that biotechnology in agriculture negatively impacts animal health.  “There has been a strong backlash against the validity of this study in the scientific community with some even questioning how it was ever published,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. “We join these respected academics in questioning the methods used and conclusions drawn. With so many issues already apparent and in the absence of other reputable data that would support the study’s conclusions, we hope that the public will see that this is an agenda-driven attack on agriculture and not a scientifically-valid study.”  Published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, “The Long-Term Toxicity...

(Posted Tue. Sep 18th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Sept. 18:  Citing numerous concerns about a fundamentally flawed ballot measure, the National Corn Growers Association has joined a large and broad coalition to oppose California Proposition 37, which, if approved by voters in November, will require labeling of some food products sold in that state that contain genetically engineered ingredients.  “We have several good reasons to oppose Prop. 37,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer.  “First and foremost, while requiring a specific label about genetic modification, this added information says nothing about food nutrition, dietary requirements or food safety. And it does nothing to educate consumers about what biotechnology really means. While some tout this as a ‘right to know’ it actually will lead to more confusion that will cost farmers, consumers and California taxpayers at a time the state and its citizens cannot afford it.”  In addition, it is important to remember the benefits of biotechnology. The World Health...

(Posted Thu. Aug 30th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology Research

Aug. 30: The second edition of the National Corn Growers Association’s Research Glossary is now available online. This glossary, which covers the terms most frequently used in agricultural discussions of genomics, genetics and biotechnology, provides a simple, accessible resource for those looking to better understand and communicate on programs such as the corn genome sequence.     Click here for the online glossary. A pocket guide version is also available through the mail by contacting NCGA at corninfo@ncga.com.     “While farmers understand the important role research plays in modern agriculture, an enriched understanding of scientific terminology facilitates discussion,” said NCGA Research and Business Development Action Team Chair DeVonna Zeug. “We are extremely proud of NCGA’s work to advance biotechnology through projects such as the National Plant Genome Initiative, and the glossary builds upon these achievements.  In this edition, we have refined the glossary, improving...

(Posted Fri. Jun 29th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

This week, National Corn Growers Association Corn Board member Bob Bowman participated on a panel at the U.S. State Department National Foreign Affairs Training Center.  Bowman, who also serves as board liaison to the Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team, was the first agriculture producer invited to speak during the State Department's course.  The panel focused biotechnology and global challenges related to trade, food security, energy and climate change.  "Improved seeds give farmers new choices to cope with new challenges, such as plant diseases and difficult weather conditions, and help feed a rapidly growing global population in an environmentally sustainable way," Bowman said.  "Corn farmers have embraced modern biotechnology and, because of that, we have seen the use of fewer pesticides and fuel while improving yields."  The panel leading the session included three speakers representing a diversity of views on modern biotechnology including representatives from the...

(Posted Mon. Jun 4th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology Research

June 4: The research journal Nature Genetics published two manuscripts this week offering an unprecedented glimpse into the diversity of modern corn in their online edition.  Gathered through the U.S. Maize Diversity Project, the information in these studies provides important data that will aid breeders and geneticists in efforts to develop improved traits.  “The information in these studies has very exciting implications for corn farmers,” said National Corn Growers Association Research and Business Development Action Team Chair DeVonna Zeug.  “As research and development facilities across the country, such as the proposed National Agricultural Genotyping Center, apply this information to the development of new corn hybrids, farmers will see a wider selection of improved traits at a much more rapid pace.  These developments in the lab will yield real-world results in the field.”  The first study will allow scientists to identify variations that have allowed corn to adapt...

(Posted Fri. May 25th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

May 25: Both the farmers and citizens of countries using biotechnology reap considerable economic and environmental benefits, according to a study released this week by PG Economics Limited.  Spanning 15 years, the report documents important gains in production, improved incomes and reduced risk for farmers.   “The environment in user countries is benefiting from farmers using more benign herbicides or replacing insecticide use with insect-resistant GM crops,” said Graham Brookes, one of the study’s authors. “The reduction in pesticide spraying and the switch to no till cropping systems is also resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of these benefits are found in developing countries.”  Looking at the farm-level impact on socio-economic and environmental factors beginning in 1996, the year in which crop varieties developed through biotechnology became commercially available, the researchers found that use of this technology consistently produced benefits for...

(Posted Mon. May 7th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

May 7: Last week, the Obama Administration released a National Bioeconomy Blueprint that outlines a comprehensive approach to drive the bioeconomy and guides federal agencies and the private sector to enhance economic growth and job creation.  The Bioeconomy Blueprint emerged as a priority not only for economic reasons, but also because it enables Americans to live healthier lives, develop new sources of bioenergy, address environmental challenges and increase the scope and productivity of the agricultural sector.  The National Corn Growers Association thanks the administration for highlighting the benefits of genetically modified crops to the U.S. economy.  According to the USDA, U.S. revenues in 2010 from genetically modified crops were approximately $76 billion. Biotechnology advancements combined with breeding techniques are expected, in the near future, to lead crops with desirable traits such as improved nutritional value, enhanced disease resistance and higher crop yields....

(Posted Thu. May 3rd, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

May 3:  As advertising budgets decline and competition increases, media outlets and food manufacturers alike find themselves needing to exploit any possible factor that could differentiate their product from the crowd.  In many ways, the increased attention both parties pay to the use of biotechnology in agriculture stems from this predicament.  Without solid, scientific claims against these products, news providers and food makers alike have found that exploiting the physiological tendency to fear the unknown drives consumers toward products which they identify as more natural despite no evidence that this somehow improves said product.  When in doubt, cause mass hysteria.  Then, turn said hysteria into financial gain by promoting an agenda or product that can be marketed by promoting the lack of the very ingredient media outlets falsely villainized in order to gain ratings.  Finally, advertise said “natural product” through the various channels that originally introduced the...

(Posted Wed. May 2nd, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

May 2: Today, the National Corn Growers Association’s “Off the Cob” podcast series speaks with Dr. Jack Gardiner, the curator of the Maize Genome and Genetics Database, where NCGA has funded activities that will add functional genomic software tools into the preexisting USDA ARS database.  When completed, these tools will allow researchers to easily isolate and examine manageable data sets, thus decreasing the time and effort needed to utilize the massive amounts of genomic data on corn and produce results that will aid farmers.  The work on the Maize Genome and Genetics Database continues NCGA’s leadership in the area of corn genetics.  Instrumental in its role as a proponent of the original Maize Genome Sequencing Project, the organization continues service to growers in its work bringing together the scientific talent and funding needed to advance collective knowledge supporting innovation.  As work toward this eventual goal chugs along, Gardiner provides an update on the...

(Posted Wed. Apr 4th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Apr. 4: This week, the National Corn Growers Association is participating in the New Development in GM Crop Farming meeting held in Manila, Philippines celebrating the tenth anniversary of the country’s adoption of this important form of technology. Considered the most progressive country in terms of biotech adoption, officials from the government of the Philippines, major technology companies and other stakeholders, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are meeting to look at ways to maintain the foothold for biotech adoption in the Asian Pacific region gained here a decade ago.  “Our Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team constantly works to promote the adoption of biotech regulations in foreign markets very similar to those in place here,” said NCGA Director of Biotechnology and Economic Analysis Nathan Fields, who serves as one of the staff leads for that team.  “Our grower leaders have set a strong path for our work in overseas markets, clearly placing a...

(Posted Thu. Mar 29th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology Research

Today, the National Corn Growers Association launches a new series featuring information on the scientific topics relevant to farming, food, biofuels and agriculture as a whole.    What Do Chemical, Organic, Synthetic and Natural Really Mean?  By Dr. Pam Keck, NCGA Director of Biofuels Programs and Business Development  Would you vote to ban a substance with the following characteristics?  Recent scientific evidence has shown the substance hydrogen oxide to pose many extreme dangers to humans. Colorless, odorless and tasteless, it kills uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation, but the dangers do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. If ingested, it can cause excessive urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. At the same time, hydrogen oxide withdrawal means certain death. Additionally, hydrogen oxide is known to:...

(Posted Fri. Mar 16th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology Production Trade

Mar. 16: Farmers looking for information about the approval status of U.S.-grown corn hybrids in certain export markets now have access to the most current data through the National Corn Growers Association’s Know Before Your Grow program.  Recently updated, Know Before Your Grow, featured on the association’s website, provides a comprehensive look at this vital information in an easily accessible format.  To learn more about this program, Off the Cob sat down with NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman, a farmer from Rosendale, Wisc.  In his explanation of the program, Zimmerman stressed the simplicity and importance of making informed planting decisions that factor the nuances of the final market into decisions.  “The Know Before You Grow program offers a website, which is open to anyone interested, listing the approval status of the biotech traits currently available,” he explained. “This is incredibly important because farmers who are...

(Posted Mon. Mar 5th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology Production

Mar. 5:  As a preview to National Agriculture Day events in Washington this week, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance is holding a panel discussion on Capitol Hill that will be streamed live online, and is inviting questions from the public. While he is not a panelist, National Corn Growers Association Chairman Bart Schott, a North Dakota corn farmer, will be present in his role as Vice Chair of USFRA.  “We’re proud to be one of the founding organizations of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance,” Schott said. “Not only has this organization united farmers and ranchers together as never before, but it is helping jumpstart a real conversation about our commitment to continuous improvement to provide healthy choices for all when it comes to the food they eat. This panel will help bring that conversation to our nation’s capital.”  The discussion, before an audience of more than 200, will center on technology, and how, for most industries, it is seen as a catalyst for...

(Posted Thu. Feb 23rd, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Feb. 23:  When the biotechnology revolution hit the U.S. corn industry, it did more than change the way people farmed. For NCGA, it changed the roles grower leaders had to play if they were going to represent their members effectively.  “With biotech, early on we could see this was something new,” says Leon Corzine, who chaired NCGA’s Biotechnology Working Group before becoming an NCGA officer.  “The biotechnology providers were pushing it out to the farmers, and from a farmer perspective, a lot were excited about what biotech could do. But we could see there were marketplace concerns with this new technology and acceptance was an issue,” he recalls.  “NCGA had to tell the providers, ‘We know this is great technology, but you’ve got to take it slower.’”  Established in 2000, the working group was initially just four growers with help from two staff members, he remembers.  “We saw the huge potential in biotech, and we had a good understanding in the working group...

(Posted Thu. Feb 9th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Feb. 9:  As planting for the 2012 season approaches, the National Corn Growers Association notes that newly revamped on-farm refuge assessments are part of the enhanced Compliance Assurance Program (CAP) implemented last year, which is designed to improve compliance with Insect Resistance Management (IRM) requirements. Corn growers found to be out of compliance with refuge requirements will be checked more frequently by the Bt corn registrants and have a higher probability of losing access to Bt corn if compliance is not established and maintained.   The Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee (ABSTC), a consortium of Bt corn registrants, submits an annual CAP report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describing industry-coordinated compliance assurance efforts for Bt traits. The year’s report is the first following the implementation of the enhanced CAP.  “To implement the CAP, technology providers made some major changes to their...

(Posted Wed. Jan 25th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

Jan. 25:  The National Corn Growers Association’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team convened today in Orlando, Fla., to review the organization’s policy and recommendations coming out of the Priority and Policy Conference held earlier in January. Additionally, team members will meet with representatives from government and industry to explore current challenges and opportunities in the areas of trade and biotechnology.   Looking at a variety of issues including how to best support agricultural exports, stress the importance of refuge compliance and facilitate successful communication across the biotechnology value-chain on their issues, the team will use its in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to develop the nuanced, strategic suggestions needed to guide NCGA policy effectively.  “During the winter months, it can begin to feel like farmer leaders spend a large amount of time participating in meetings for a variety of agricultural groups,” said team Chair Chad...

(Posted Thu. Jan 5th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

Jan. 5: The National Corn Growers Association’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team was created in 2010 by the unification of two existing action teams. Seeing that trade issues facing the corn industry most often involved a biotechnology component, leadership saw it prudent to create a single group to explore these issues and develop an in-depth understanding of the nuanced areas of overlap involved.  In 2012, the team, along with state and national staff assistance, will face many important issues as they advocate for cooperation across the biotechnology value chain, provide innovative, cutting-edge tools to help farmers act as responsible stewards of biotechnology products, and support trade agreements that benefit U.S. agriculture and the national economy.  “We made major progress in 2011 when the U.S. ratified free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama, launched an updated version of our online IRM refuge calculator and opened a dialogue with groups from...

(Posted Thu. Dec 22nd, 2011)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

Dec. 22: The decision to allow Russia to become a member of the World Trade Organization can be a benefit to American agriculture, the National Corn Growers Association said. WTO ministers adopted Russia’s terms of entry at the Eighth Ministerial Meeting, held recently in Geneva, and Russia has 220 days to ratify its accession agreement.  “Russia’s membership makes the WTO a more universal trade organization,” Chad Blindauer, Chair of NCGA’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action team said. “It also ensures Russia plays by the same rules as other WTO members.The deal allows for more fair and open trade policy.”  The Working Party Chair of Russia’s accession, Ambassador Stefan Johannesson of Iceland, said the “documents constituting Russia’s terms of entry into the WTO resulted from a tough and successful engagement between Russia and WTO members.”  As part of the accession deal, Russia has agreed to undertake further commitments to open its trade regime. This includes lowering...

(Posted Mon. Dec 5th, 2011)

Keywords: Biotechnology Production

Dec. 5: High-yield technologies like those used in the United States will have to be effectively adapted for use world-wide in order to meet growing global food demand, according to the findings of a study released by University of Minnesota Professor David Tilman and colleagues in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Estimating that global food demand will double by the year 2050, the scientists project that, in order to meet that demand without causing serious environmental damage, less developed nations must significantly improve yields by the adoption of nitrogen-efficient “intensive” farming practices that allow farmers to grow more crop on less land using fewer inputs more strategically.  Reporting on the findings, Science Daily noted Tilman stressed the importance of modern U.S. agricultural practices in preserving the environment while feeding a growing population.  “Agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions could double by 2050 if current trends in global...

(Posted Tue. Nov 22nd, 2011)

Keywords: Biotechnology Research

Nov. 22: The National Corn Growers Association actively defended the importance of publicly funded research into corn last week to a panel of industry stakeholders tasked with discussing the future of federally funded agricultural research programs. Noting that corn is not only the largest crop in the United States but also a major export product, NCGA staff defended against calls to kill public funding for corn research, stressing the importance of public research that generates ideas, encourages collaboration and confirms the internal findings of private companies.  “Corn is too valuable of an asset to our country for publicly funded research to cease,” said NCGA Director of Research and New Uses Dr. Richard Vierling. “Halting this important, unbiased source of data would be disastrous for the future of the industry and deeply injurious to the future of the country. Right now, we still have an advantage in production agriculture. It is an edge we cannot afford to lose in the...

(Posted Tue. Nov 15th, 2011)

Keywords: Biotechnology Conservation Trade

Nov. 15: Last week, the National Corn Growers Association met with Dr. Saturnina Halos, a senior agriculture science consultant at the Philippines Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Research, to discuss biotechnology usage in the United States. NCGA staff emphasized the practices in place to ensure safe and responsible use of these improved varieties, also providing information on structured refuge, new refuge-in-a-bag options and farmer attitudes toward compliance.  Marketing staff began the meeting by providing an overview of the organization, its mission and activities to aide Halos in understanding the specific role NCGA plays in the greater U.S. industry and why it does so.  Halos expressed particular interest in NCGA’s involvement with technology providers to ensure the availability of traits and in efforts to ensure farmers use these products responsibly. Expressing concern over farmer attitudes in the Philippines, she sought advice on conveying the...

(Posted Tue. Nov 8th, 2011)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

Today, the National Corn Growers Association hosted a group of Brazilian dignitaries, including World Food Prize winner Alysson Paolinelli, who was key in transforming the country’s infertile high plains region, Cerrado, into highly productive crop land. Now the CEO of the Brazilian Corn Growers Association, Paolinelli, along with colleagues from his organization, the food processing industry, agribusiness and an environmental consulting group, met with NCGA marketing and biotechnology staff to better understand the organization and the role of biotechnology in the U.S. corn market.  NCGA Vice President of Marketing Fred Stemme welcomed the team and spoke with them on the association’s structure, the key issues on which it focuses and updated them on major projects currently underway.  Stemme was followed by Director of Biotechnology and Economic Analysis Nathan Fields who provided an overview of the state of the 2011 U.S. corn crop. Giving information on both current supply and...

(Posted Tue. Oct 25th, 2011)

Keywords: Biotechnology Conservation Trade

Oct. 25: Last week, staff from the National Corn Growers Association took to the fields of South Dakota taping video footage to be used in updates of the group’s online Insect Resistance Module . This footage, which features NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Chad Blindauer of Mitchell, S.D., will be used along with interviews taped late this summer to create a module that helps to explain insect resistance management in an accessible manner and features actual explanations from real farmers about the practices implemented on their farms.  “The IRM calculator and module have been a great help to growers and, through the improvements underway, NCGA hopes to make them an even more effective tool,” said Blindauer. “Insect resistance management is incredibly important as it allows traits to function at the best level possible until improved varieties are made available. We hope that, by explaining this in a manner that is both clearly applicable and accessible, we...

(Posted Wed. Sep 7th, 2011)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Sept. 7:  Today, the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association brought together key industry stakeholders to start a discussion about how to best begin construction of a framework for addressing biotech events and impacts on end use markets.   Acknowledging that all parts of the value chain share a common goal of an uninterrupted flow of corn, soybeans and technology, attendees shared ideas and insights on finding a solution to disruptions that could potentially impact growers.  NCGA CEO Rick Tolman opened the meeting welcoming farmers, members of the grain trade, association staff, biotechnology firm leadership and others from the grain and oilseed trade with a reminder of both the importance and scope of this discussion.  In his remarks, Tolman reinforced that NCGA and ASA chose to host this meeting to provide the entire industry with an open space in which to find ways to improve communication.  Following Tolman’s remarks, NCGA President Bart...

(Posted Tue. Aug 23rd, 2011)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Aug. 23: As demand for corn and other crops continues to grow, farmers are meeting the challenge through the use of biotech crop varieties. Producing higher yields and alleviating stressors, the scientifically designed crops are growing in popularity the world over as farmers see firsthand their many advantages.  “Biotechnology has helped me produce more corn more consistently,” said South Dakota farmer Chad Blindauer, chair of the National Corn Growers Association’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. “It has helped me become a better farmer, a more efficient farmer, and I believe that is why we’ve seen biotech crops adopted at such a rapid rate not only here in the United States, but in a couple dozen countries around the world.”  In 2010, just 15 years after the first biotech crops were commercialized, farmers in 29 countries planted and produced biotech crops on 366 million acres, according to a report published earlier this year by the International Service for the...