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Corn+Soybean Digest

Plant Biotech In 2000?

Word of huge premiums for non-biotech crops this fall has some growers wondering if it was a good idea to plant more expensive biotech seed. And questions about the marketability of biotech, or GMO, crops have many wondering whether to plant any next spring.

The facts are: * Despite ample talk about premiums for non-biotech corn and soybeans, the actual quantity bought by companies offering premiums was small. Most processors willing to pay premiums have already located adequate supplies.

STS soybeans may be an exception. DuPont's David Young says there still may be some need for these non-GMO beans from the '99 crop. Premiums being discussed are in the 18-25"cents"/bu range, but the actual amount will be determined by the Chicago price factored for local basis.

Young says DuPont is already seeking up to 2 million acres of STS soybeans from the 2000 crop. The company's identity-preserved group also is contracting for high-sucrose, low-linoleic and high-oleic soybeans, plus waxy and several other specialty corns.

He suggests contacting your local elevator to find out if it's a cooperator. For more information, log on to

* No "huge" premiums were paid. Growers were usually offered 3-8"cents"/bu if their beans met a "zero tolerance" standard. And there have been no reports of corn or beans being docked because they were from biotech seed.

* While a number of food processors are insisting on no biotech corn or soybeans, most users are buying as usual.

* Only a handful of elevator managers say they won't take biotech crops. The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) has compiled a list of elevators buying biotech crops. It's available on the Internet at, or you can link to the ASTA site from the National Corn Growers Association's Web site at www.

Marc Curtis, president of the American Soybean Association, grew some biotech beans in 1999. He says there appears to be plenty of market for biotech crops this year, and he anticipates the same for next summer's crop.

"Nobody is going to be stuck with beans they can't sell," says Curtis, of Leland, MS.

Curtis feels processors will continue to offer higher prices for small quantities of non-biotech soybeans, particularly for food uses. But he says growers need to show they can deliver them as identity preserved, and they should be careful what they promise in delivery contracts.

"If I'd ever grown Roundup Ready soybeans on my farm, I would never certify to a buyer that I was supplying 100% non-biotech," he says.

Curtis is reluctant to tell other growers what to plant in 2000. But, he says, "I'm contacting all the elevators I sell to and asking them now what they'll accept next year. For all the beans I forward contract, I'm asking for a statement in the contract as to whether these beans must be non-biotech."

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