Farm Press Release
For immediate release - Tuesday, July 24, 2001.
Contact Eric Tabor -- 515-281-5191, or Steve Moline -- 515-281-6634.
Aventis Signs Supplemental Agreement to Mitigate Losses from StarLink Corn
Miller says binding contract spells out how farmers can be compensated who found StarLink "Cry9C" protein completely unexpectedly.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said Tuesday that Aventis CropScience -- the maker of StarLink genetically modified corn that entered the grain and food chains -- has reached a supplemental contractual agreement with seventeen State Attorneys General acting on behalf of additional growers who may suffer losses as a result of StarLink corn.
The supplemental agreement focuses on growers who have found StarLink "Cry9C" corn in their inventories despite the fact that they had not purchased StarLink-brand seed or grown corn within 660 feet of corn grown from StarLink seed. Such "StarLink growers" and "buffer growers" are eligible for various kinds of compensation under an agreement the State Attorneys General reached with Aventis on January 23 of this year.
"Some StarLink corn has showed up where no one expected it, and sometimes where no one can explain it," Miller said. "This supplemental agreement gives us better terms and definitions for helping those kinds of growers. I am very pleased we reached these new understandings."
Miller also said that Aventis has agreed to grant a one-time-only extension of the Sept. 1 deadline to growers that need more time to feed their StarLink corn to livestock on their own farms.
"These are good developments for farmers," Miller said. "I think Aventis is working hard to correct the situation and make it right for farmers and elevators. They have mobilized to get the corn out of the grain chain and set up procedures and terms to pay producers and elevators whose grain may have lost value because of StarLink corn."
Miller said Aventis has paid millions of dollars to farmers and elevators so far.
The supplemental agreement spells out eligibility and benefits for farmers who found Cry9C protein in their corn even though they were neither StarLink-brand growers nor "buffer growers."
The supplemental agreement covers two kinds of growers eligible for benefits: those who have confirmed with their seed dealer that the seed they purchased inadvertently contained Cry9C, and those who don't have such confirmation from their seed dealer but provide other evidence that their corn contains Cry9C StarLink protein.
Growers with written confirmation that the seed contained Cry9C are eligible for the following benefits under Aventis's "StarLink Enhanced Stewardship" or SES program: 25 cents for each bushel of non-StarLink corn containing Cry9C; 25 cents for each bushel of buffer corn grown within 660 feet of such non-StarLink corn containing Cry9C; 5 cents per bushel of commingled corn if fed on the farm, or 10 cents per bushel if marketed to a StarLink Logistics approved destination. Such growers also can be reimbursed for excess cost of transportation or storage or other verifiable loss of value exceeding benefits available under Aventis's SES StarLink program.
Growers without confirmation from a seed dealer may demonstrate eligibility in several ways: load-by-load testing as each load is delivered; or, on-farm testing by an Aventis representative; or, on-farm testing by the farmer with Aventis prior approval. Aventis pays testing costs.
Growers who qualify are eligible for benefits as follows: all corn testing positive is classified as "commingled" corn; growers may be paid 5 cents per bushel if the corn is fed to livestock on the farm, or 10 cents if it is marketed to a StarLink Logistics approved destination. Growers also can be reimbursed for excess cost of transportation or storage or other verifiable loss of value.
For details on these terms -- or for information on extending the Sept. 1 deadline -- Miller's Office encouraged farmers to contact Aventis or go to Aventis's web site on the situation: www.StarLinkCorn.com. Call the Attorney General's Farm Division (515-281-5351) or visit the web site: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org. (click on "Farm Advocacy.")
"This is another good step forward in tackling this situation," Miller said. "We will continue to work with Aventis on details of implementing the agreement, and our discussions will continue as other StarLink corn issues arise."
Miller and the Farm Division of his office have led states in negotiating with Aventis since the StarLink situation emerged last October, pressing the company to provide effective terms and claims procedures for farmers and elevators to recoup losses that may result because of StarLink.
The supplemental agreement was signed by the States and Aventis CropScience USA LP, based in Research Triangle Park, NC. States that signed the agreement are Iowa, Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The States encompass over 90 percent of the acreage planted to StarLink corn last year.
Aventis has said the goal of its "StarLink Enhanced Stewardship" and StarLink Logistics plans is to completely segregate StarLink corn from other grain and to move StarLink corn and commingled corn to approved sites and approved uses such as animal feed and certain industrial uses.
Miller has said it was "irresponsible" for Aventis to market the StarLink seed corn with unrealistic restrictions - including that there must be at least 660-foot "buffer strips" between StarLink and other planted corn, and that StarLink grain had to be kept segregated from other corn. He also has said his office believes most Iowa growers were not aware of the restrictions in any event.
Miller said the States did not release any potential claims or causes of action as a result of their agreements with Aventis, in case other issues arise that are not covered by the agreement. He also said the agreement does not affect any claims that have been made or could be made by growers or elevators who choose to proceed with legal action or claims.
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