October 22, 2008

US seed industry suspends programme to segregate non-EU approved corn


The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) announced today the suspension of the grain marketing programme and certification mark, Market Choices, which will be phased out by fall 2009.


This decision comes as the trade of US corn, corn gluten feed and DDGS with the EU has essentially stopped due to the lack of timely regulatory approvals for corn biotech traits. The regulatory approvals for grain and other feed products derived from this technology to enter the EU have lagged significantly behind US and global approvals. A zero tolerance for traits not fully approved in the EU has made importation of US corn and derived products virtually impossible since 2007.


The Market Choices certification mark was established in 2002 to help growers and grain handlers identify non-EU approved corn hybrids. The Market Choices certification mark has been used industry-wide to help growers easily identify corn hybrids with enhanced traits, fully approved for food and feed use in the US, Canada and Japan, but not yet approved in the EU. As a result, Market Choices serves as a tool for growers to identify these hybrids and segregate the grain away from the EU export market.


Representatives of the European agricultural industry have requested the European Commission allow a tolerance for biotechnology traits not yet approved in Europe but approved in the country of origin. The Commission and EU Member States failed to agree on the adoption of a tolerance.


Discussions have been held in the EU seeking an allowable tolerance for biotech traits approved in the US but not in the EU to facilitate trade, but there is no indication that such a tolerance, if granted, would be at a commercially viable level, comments ASTA President and CEO Andy LaVigne.


He added that ASTA has reviewed the effectiveness, usefulness and value of the certification mark and after careful consideration, decided to suspend its use over the next year. However, the seed industry will continue to assist stakeholders by providing information regarding regulatory approval of biotech events in export markets to growers through the National Corn Growers Association and their related programme.


Founded in 1883, ASTA is one of the oldest trade organizations in the US Its membership consists of approximately 750 companies involved in seed production and distribution, plant breeding and related industries in North America.

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