Dale: There's a lot of concern out there. It's too early to tell. A certain amount of people don't know if they want to plant Roundup-ready beans next year or not, just from the standpoint that we might have a hard time selling them.The seed market is now controlled by a few huge companies including Monsanto, Dupont, and the Swiss-based firm Novartis, which is the world's largest agribusiness firm. Those companies assured farmers there would be no problem with genetically modified, or so called GMO, crops. Dale says now, some farmers feel betrayed.
Dale: That's the part that's making farmers kind of irritated too. They're a big company and they supply the seed, and now they don't want to use it. That puts the farmer between a rock and a hard place.Half the soybean market goes for exports, so soybean farmers are watching anxiously to see how far the backlash against GMO crops goes. The world's largest grain marketer, Minnetonka-based Cargill, is showing signs of caution about genetically engineered crops.
Staley: What we've made very clear to customers around the world is, we will do what customers want us to do. We are a supplier, and for instance Japan, they want something like 95 percent GMO-free cargoes of grain, so we are scurrying around looking and seeing, can we in a very documented fashion, put on a vessel and ship to Japan with a certificate that this meets their requirementsCargill declined to be interviewed for this story.
Niebur: There are challenges for all of us in terms of being able to predict what will happen politically, economically. We're being very cautious in terms of being able to provide our customer base with a choice.Seed companies have already grown much of the seed for next year's planting season. The new seed supply is even more heavily weighted toward GMO varieties than this year's. Neiber says Pioneer believes in the new technology and does not expect Midwest farmers to retreat from it.
Shonsey: We're going to be sharing the story on television, in newspapers on the radio, certainly sharing it in forums. If that's what it takes to preserve this science.Opponents of genetic engineering are also gearing up.
Shonsey: We've been encouraging dialogue and tests so I wonder what the vandals are really afraid of or whose purpose they're serving, certainly not the 400 million people in the world who have severe iron deficiency , and that's a problem that's been solved by putting three new genes in golden rice, and that's just one example of how the science is good.But Shonsey acknowledges the industry hasn't always made a clear case for the possible benefits of biotechnology for the general public.