(Posted Fri. Aug 1st, 2014)

By National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre


Sometimes, it is necessary to respond to inaccurate stories in the media. I submitted the following response to NPR’s The Salt Blog today in an attempt to correct misinformation in the recent post “When China Spurns GMO Corn, American Farmers Lose Billions”:


We would like to express serious concern over your recent story “When China Spurns GMO Corn Imports, American Farmers Lose Billions.” In its portrayal of the current situation involving corn exports to China, the piece misrepresented biotechnology, and Syngenta in particular, as the problem in this situation. This is clearly not the case.


For many years, when China had a need for U.S. corn imports, it did not take issue with biotechnology. While asynchronous and thus inherently problematic, its regulatory approvals of new traits came on a steady and somewhat predictable basis. Now, China has, without credible explanation, chosen to withhold biotech approvals for unspecified time periods as a means by which it can manipulate the market. In refusing to comply with even its own regulatory guidelines, China has shown a clear desire to disrupt trade to its own economic advantage with little regard for the international impacts of its actions. Recent statements that China will halt DDG imports and alfalfa imports over biotech concerns further support this conclusion.


Secondly, we take offense with the characterization of farmers. Farmers will be farmers; they will act as good stewards. The growers who planted Duracade this spring have been made well aware of their responsibilities and have signed agreements to ensure international trade issues are minimized. The National Corn Growers Association, along with others, has worked throughout this situation to keep farmers informed about the potential impacts on both market and technology access through campaigns such as that promoting the Know Before You Grow website.


Maybe things have changed elsewhere but on America’s family farms people still honor their responsibilities. The implication otherwise does a disservice to the hard working men and women who do their best to grow food for our country.