The National Corn Growers Association rejects the conclusion of an analysis released by Benbrook Consulting Services claiming that corn developed with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has hurt rather than helped U.S. farm income.
Economics rule in corn production and U.S. growers wouldn't use a technology that doesn't give a positive return on investment, noted Leon Corzine, Assumption, Ill., farmer and chairman of the NCGA Biotech Working Group.
“U.S. corn producers are very attuned to costs and revenues and the bottom line. About 18 percent of corn farmers in the United States chose to plant Bt corn this past year. It is ridiculous and downright insulting to assume that we would make that decision without having clearly weighed the costs and benefits,” said Corzine.
NCGA has long stated that biotech hybrids are one tool that corn producers have at their disposal, Corzine continued. “Individual farmers decide whether it makes sense in their operations,” he explained. “It is not appropriate nor effective in all corn production situations.”
NCGA's Know Before You Grow program available at NCGA's Website, www.ncga.com, helps farmers decide whether to use biotech hybrids, he pointed out. And, NCGA supports the Insect Resistance Management (IRM) program to insure that Bt hybrids will retain their effectiveness in protecting corn from insects.
Corzine said much more credible studies of Bt corn show that it is very effective in areas of high corn borer population. Studies have shown that Bt hybrids enhance yield, reduce mycotoxin levels and reduce the use of pesticides.
One recent example of such research comes from a group of 22 scientists from USDA and Midwestern land grant universities who made the following statement in response to similar criticisms of Bt corn: “The scientific community has examined the risks and benefits of Bt plants more than any other novel agricultural technology developed over the past two decades, as demonstrated by the vast body of literature, scientific discussions, and numerous public meetings facilitated by the EPA, the USDA, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on this subject. We find the evidence to date supports the appropriate use of Bt corn as one component in the economically and ecologically sound management of lepidopteran corn pests.”
The report by Benbrook is part of a series published by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and the Genetically Engineered Food Alert on issues related to biotechnology.
Rick Tolman, NCGA executive vice president and CEO, noted, “The IATP report immediately lacks credibility because it uses as its farmer organization spokesperson a representative of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA). ACGA has much stronger ties to and support from the environmental extremists than they do from actual corn producers in the United States. They are not credible representatives for U.S. corn growers.”
Concluded Corzine, “The bottom line is that if Bt corn were not economic and effective for those farmers who choose to buy it, it would not and will not survive in the marketplace. Farmers know what works for them and what will return net income to their operations. So far, Bt corn has proven its value in appropriate situations. As long as that continues, farmers will continue to use this tool.”
For more information about NCGA and biotechnology, visit www.ncag.com.