Contact: Gary Goldberg, 918-488-1829, David Senter, 202-331-4348, firstname.lastname@example.org
Corn and Soybean Exports Drop Considerably From Year-Ago Levels As Losses Stand At Over One Billion Dollars WASHINGTON,DC..March 12, 2000---Because of overseas resistance to genetically modified (GMO) crops, U.S. farmers are losing overseas markets. Brazil and China have both benefited from certified non-GMO shipments, while American farmers lose over one billion dollars in sales.
"American farmers are facing historically low prices because of overproduction. Yet U.S. grain exporters continue to insist that GMOs be sold despite the desire by overseas customers for non-GMO products," said Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA). "Instead of giving the customer what they want, the attitude and arrogance of US exporters and some domestic farm organizations is forcing overseas buyers to turn their backs on U.S. corn and soybeans.
In marketing year 1997-1998, corn exports to Europe stood at 2 million tons. In marketing year 1998-1999, those same exports dropped to 137,000 tons. Soybeans dropped from 11 million tons in 1998 to 6 million tones last year.
"As a result of exporter arrogance to ship GMOs, American farmers have lost over one billion dollars in lost sales. The only winners are U.S. grain export competitors who are picking up our former customers," added Goldberg. "And remember, multinational exporters never lose a sale, they just export from our foreign competitor's country."
French grocer Carrefour recently agreed to purchase 180,000 metric tons of non-GMO certified soybeans from Brazil in order to feed their livestock supplier's non-GMO fodder. South Korea purchased over 4 million bushels of certified non-GMO corn from China. This is in addition to most European and Asian customers who are refusing to purchase American crops because of the lack of certified non-GMO products. Instead of being responsive to the wishes of US foreign customers, the grain industry, from grain elevators to shippers to the US Grains Council, insists that GMOs are safe and should be marketed. Instead of accepting the fact that the customer is always right and deserves to receive whatever they demand, domestic supporters of GMOs are costing American farmers important markets for our surplus. That puts downward pressure on corn prices.
It is time that domestic farm organizations, check-off promotion boards and grain shippers take a more neutral stance on the issue of biotechnology. Whether the United States believes the products to be safe or environmentally friendly isn't the issue. The issue is what the foreign and domestic customer ask for. Frito-Lay, Seagram's, Gerber and Heinz baby foods, IAMS pet foods, and Wild Oats and Whole Foods Markets have all responded to customer demands.
"U.S. farmers don't care whether we sell GMO or non-GMO crops to foreign customers. Why should the grain trade care as well? The big loser in this fight to save the biotechnology industry is domestic grain producers who are seeing their exports drop to next to nothing. The Freedom to Farm legislation said grow for the market. The market is demanding non-GMOs. Why isn't the grain trade listening? They forced this farm law onto U.S. farmers, now those same grain traders are killing our export market. What's wrong with this picture?" added Goldberg.
"Many members of the ACGA would like to have the opportunity to plant GMOs in the future as part of their farming options. However, they will not grow a product they cannot sell because of the uncertainty oVER marketability. That is why GMO planted acres will drop by 16% according to a recent ACGA survey. Farmers who are turning their backs on GMOs are responding to customer concerns. Now it is time for exporters to do the same," concluded Goldberg.: