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Corn Growers Assert That Increased Corn Yields Is the Wrong Reason To Plant Genetically Modified Corn
Updated 3:00 AM ET July 20, 2000

WASHINGTON, July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) strongly believe that the likelihood of increased corn yields to help provide food for the world's hungry people is the wrong reason for farmers to plant genetically modified (GMO) crops. Increased yields only lead to lower prices received by America's corn producers.

The latest public relations campaign by the Administration and biotechnology industry states that the only way to provide enough food for a growing world population is through the increased productivity of biotechnology. With USDA predictions of a record corn crop and prices hitting a 12-year low in the July future's contracts on the Chicago Board of Trade, higher yields are finding no additional world markets while dropping commodity prices even further. Currently corn prices in parts of South Dakota are as low as $1.16 per bushel.

Some industry officials claim that GMO corn has a 10% higher yield advantage over traditional, non-GMO corn varieties. In 1999, if all the nation's farmers would have planted GMO corn and with last year's corn crop at 9.4 billion bushels, a 10% increase in yield would have generated an additional 940 million bushels. That is the equivalent to all the annual corn utilized for corn sweeteners and half the annual corn needed for the ethanol industry.

"The worst possible reason to support genetically modified corn is to bring about increased productivity and higher corn yields. This could result in the bankrupting of America's agricultural producers, driving corn prices below $1.00 per bushel," said Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of the ACGA.

While feeding the hungry is a laudable goal, current record feed stocks in the U.S. is still not finding its way to those who need it the most. Therefore, the real reasons for hunger is not necessarily the lack of food but the lack of income to purchase and the absence of an infrastructure to get the food to those who need it the most. If the hungry cannot be fed with current worldwide overproduction, what guarantee is there that additional productivity will solve the problem?

"While farmers may believe that potential savings in herbicides and insecticides usage and increased efficiency will result from the planting of GMO corn, higher yields alone are the worst possible reason to plant additional acres of genetically modified corn. This will only drive corn prices even lower, forcing higher governmental outlays and increased dependency on federal subsidies," added Goldberg.

In 2000, corn acres planted to GMOs are estimated at 19.9 million acres. While that number is 20.4% lower than 1999, is still represents almost 25% of the total corn crop. A 10% yield increase on these 19.9 million acres with an average yield of 135 bushels to the acre is adding 268 million more bushels to this year's crop. It is safe to say that those additional bushels resulting from GMO corn have lowered prices from 10 to 15 cents per bushel. At a 10 billion bushel crop estimate, GMO corn results in a loss of $1 billion to $1.5 billion for production agriculture.

"Using the premise of feeding the world's hungry people with the use of genetically modified crops does just the opposite of its intended goal. Instead of providing more food for the world it adds to the economic depression facing America's farmers, making it increasingly difficult for U.S. farmers to afford to feed their own families, let alone those around the world. The Administration and the biotechnology industry must find other reasons to justify the utilization of GMOs besides the excuse of feeding the rest of the world," concluded Goldberg.