N.G.F.A. estimates big losses for grain industry

by Jay Sjerven
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WASHINGTON — A pair of economic analyses issued April 16 by the National Grain and Feed Association (N.G.F.A.) estimated that up to $2.9 billion in economic losses have been sustained by the U.S. corn, distillers grains and soy sectors in the aftermath of the enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy on Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera MIR 162 corn technology in U.S. export shipments to China, where the trait has not been approved for import as food or feed.

According to a second N.G.F.A. analysis, U.S. growers, grain handlers and exporters may sustain an even greater economic loss — up to $3.4 billion — during the 2014-15 marketing year, given Syngenta North America, Inc.’s, decision to launch seed sales of its new Viptera Duracade 5307 bioengineered corn well before the earliest regulatory-approval timelines in key U.S. corn export markets, including China. Syngenta has said seed sales of Duracade 5307 are expected to result in the planting of between 250,000 and 300,000 acres in portions of as many as 19 states.

The N.G.F.A. said it strongly supports agricultural biotechnology and other scientific and technological innovations that contribute to efficient production and availability of a safe, abundant, affordable and high-quality food and feed supply for U.S. and world consumers. In addition, the N.G.F.A. said it is working in tandem with the North American Export Grain Association; corn, soybean and other grower organizations; biotechnology providers, and the seed industry in trying to improve the timeliness and synchronization of U.S. and foreign governmental approvals of biotechnology-enhanced traits.

But, the N.G.F.A. said its economic analyses of the impacts of the trade disruptions resulting from the detection of unapproved Agrisure Viptera MIR 162 provides a “case study” on the ramifications of commercializing crop biotechnology before securing import approvals from major U.S. export markets — particularly foreign countries with a zero-tolerance policy for the presence of unapproved biotechnology-enhanced traits.

“Regaining and maintaining access to the Chinese import market, as well as preserving access to other U.S. export markets, is critically important to the short-term and long-term prospects of U.S. agriculture,” said Randy Gordon, president of the N.G.F.A. “These export markets are key drivers of producer profitability, current and future economic growth for U.S. agriculture, and achieving global food security.”
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