Don’t ignore that Bt corn refuge requirement

ST. LOUIS — The National Corn Growers Association reports the Compliance Assurance Program, which includes on-farm refuge assessments, an online survey and IRM education and awareness, is seeing an increase in the number of growers planting their corn refuge.

The CAP is designed to improve compliance with Insect Resistance Management requirements.

The Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee, a consortium of Bt corn registrants, submits an annual CAP report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describing industry-coordinated compliance assurance efforts for Bt traits.

Did you plant enough refuge?

In 2011, the technical committee launched a new IRM on-farm assessment program that focuses more assessments on growers who may not have purchased sufficient refuge seed according to their purchase records.

The on-farm assessment helps identify Bt corn growers who are not following refuge requirements and provides assistance so that they can achieve compliance.

“The vast majority of growers found out of compliance in 2011 were found to be complying with the IRM requirements during the 2012 season,” said Mike Smith, IRM subcommittee co-chairman.

Grower survey. In addition to on-farm assessments, an anonymous IRM grower survey was conducted. Highlights of the survey indicate a decrease in the percentage of growers not planting any refuge acres and strong adoption of integrated refuge products, which include Bt and refuge seed interspersed in a single bag or seed box.

For all Bt corn products with structured refuge requirements, in 2012, the majority of growers surveyed planted the required refuge size on their farms and the majority of growers surveyed planted a refuge within the required distance for all of their Bt corn fields.

Furthermore, the survey indicates that the percentage of growers not planting any refuge acres has declined from 16 percent in 2011 to less than 10 percent in 2012.

‘Integrated refuge’

The 2012 survey was the first year integrated refuge products were included, and 50 percent of growers indicated they planted an integrated refuge product on their farm.

The stewardship committee projects that the adoption of integrated products will continue to increase, which should help preserve Bt corn technology durability.

“The vast majority of corn growers have always followed refuge requirements to help protect the efficacy of this important technology, but all growers must follow these requirements to help preserve the long-term value of this technology,” said Jim Zimmerman, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association trade policy and biotechnology action team.

To continue awareness, all seed registrants have incorporated prominent graphics illustrating the required refuge size of the seed product on the seed bag or bag tag.

Farmers can access an IRM calculator via computer, tablet or a smart phone by logging on to www.irmcalculator.com.

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