One reason for the withdrawal was that pollen from the small test plots would spread to other hybrids in the tests. And the pollen could reach cornfields being grown by the test cooperators and their neighbors.

Biotech corn hybrids not approved for export to both Japan and the European Union (EU) will not be tested in the University of Missouri crop performance trials this year. Eight entries, all Roundup Ready corn hybrids, have been pulled from the field test, according to Bill Wiebold, MU Extension variety test specialist.

All of the companies were called and informed of the decision made in the first week of April, Wiebold said. “They have all been very understanding.”

The change in plans was announced recently in the first of weekly MU teleconferences to regional Extension agronomists across the state. The meetings with state Extension specialists will continue through the planting season.

The university will grow 191 corn hybrids in comparison plots at 12 locations across the state. The tests provide farmers with independent analysis of yield and other growth characteristics. Biotech hybrids approved by foreign markets are included. All hybrids removed from the test are legal and approved for planting and use for both animal feed and human food in the United States.

“Some of the withdrawn hybrids have been approved for export to either Japan or the EU,” Wiebold said. “We've decided that they must be accepted by both export markets.”

One reason for the withdrawal was that pollen from the small test plots would spread to other hybrids in the tests. And the pollen could reach cornfields being grown by the test cooperators and their neighbors. “We didn't believe that would be fair,” Wiebold said.

“The StarLink episode of Bt corn has made all of us much more sensitive to how new biotech hybrids are used,” Wiebold said.

The MU crop specialist urged all growers to be especially attentive to what they buy and plant this year. “Ask your seed dealer a lot of questions and read the fine print,” Wiebold said.

Growers using hybrids not approved for export should know now how the corn will be used. “If they are going to feed it at home, there is no concern,” Wiebold said. “However, it cannot be mixed with grain that could end up in export channels.

“Know what you are going to do at harvest, before you plant in the spring,” Wiebold said. “The new technologies are very useful, but they require a higher degree of management.”

The National Corn Growers Association maintains a list of corn biotechnology approved for export to Japan and the European Union on its Website: www.ncga.com. The NCGA has a campaign under way this spring called “Know Before You Grow.”

The MU corn performance evaluations are available on the Internet at http://agebb.missouri.edu/cropperf/corn.


Duane Dailey is news coordinator for the University of Missouri Extension and Ag Information.