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 regulatory approval in certain markets for the past 48 to 72 months.
“Biotechnology has been an important tool for farmers who are working to fight weeds and insects, maintain productivity, and reduce our use of natural resources,” said Don Duvall, a farmer from Carmi, Illinois and chairman of the NCGA’s Freedom to Operate Action Team. “The farmers on our team proposed this policy as a first step toward addressing what we see as a pending crisis in how new innovations come to market. We will continue working with the Trump Administration, Congress and our partners in the supply chain, to identify and promote solutions that can ensure faster access to these important new tools while also mitigating disruptions to trade.”
The new policy relies upon World Trade Organization standards that define a functioning regulatory market as a science-based system that is free of political influence. The policy was adopted by NCGA’s Corn Congress, a 127-member delegate body that represents 49 affiliated state corn organizations from 28 states.
NCGA is taking a series of actions to do our part to help contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the economic fallout it is creating for corn farmers and our customers. Short term, this means instituting policies to protect the health and safety of our stakeholders and the broader communities we serve. Long term, we’re focused on creating solutions to help corn farmers and our customers recover from the financial impacts of this crisis.
CommonGround is a group of farmers connecting with consumers through conversations about science and research and personal stories about food and misinformation surrounding farming. Supported by the NCGA and state corn organizations.
The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) is a farmer-led initiative that fosters transformation in agriculture through improved soil health. Administered by NCGA the partnership has more than 220 working farms enrolled in 16 states. SHP’s mission is to utilize science and data to partner with farmers who are adopting conservation agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm.