July 28, 2010 By Fruit & Vegetable
July 20, 2010, Ottawa – This pilot program by CropLife Canada, is in response to a recent study that revealed only
61 per cent of farmers growing Bt corn are planting the
recommended 20 per cent refuge area.
July 20, Ottawa – An on-farm, third-party assessment program to increase the number of farmers planting the proper non-Bt corn refuge area to prevent the development of insect resistance is being piloted by CropLife Canada, the trade association representing Canada's plant science industry.
This pilot program is in response to a recent study that revealed only 61 per cent of farmers growing Bt corn – a genetically modified variety of corn that is resistant to certain insect pests – are planting the recommended 20 per cent refuge area.
"This program is part of our industry's commitment to proper stewardship of our technologies," says Lorne Hepworth, president of CropLife Canada. "This year's pilot is phase one of a corrective action plan to increase refuge plantings in future years."
Agricultural production has historically endured huge losses to pests and disease, and many methods of pest control have had limited life spans. In an effort to avoid this, biotechnology companies put in place resistance management plans, which include the planting of refuges of non-Bt corn. More than a decade after the first large-scale introduction of crops with biotechnology-derived pest control traits, no insect resistance has developed in Canada.
"We must support these insect resistance management plans that have proved so successful through the years. Biotechnology-derived crops provide significant benefits to farmers and consumers alike. Thanks to Bt crops, farmers now enjoy reduced pest pressures, improved yields and lower input costs which benefits their businesses, the environment and consumers alike," says Hepworth.
Starting in July, assessors will be visiting producers growing Bt corn hybrids across Ontario and Quebec to determine whether they are planting the recommended refuge areas. The 100 farmers in Ontario and 50 in Quebec who have been selected for an assessment will be notified by mail. Accredited auditors from the Agrichemical Warehousing Standards Association (AWSA) will visit these farms throughout July and August.
Assessors will report back to CropLife Canada and individual companies will conduct follow-up visits with customers not planting the recommended refuges to help ensure the grower grows the appropriate refuge the following year.
CropLife Canada and its members realize that farmers have already planted their crops for 2010, but the pilot project will help to raise awareness of the industry's commitment to increasing the number of corn growers respecting the refuge. This will allow growers the opportunity to purchase the correct amount of non-Bt corn seed for their next planting season, prior to the commencement of the full scale on-farm assessment program starting in 2011.
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