On Monday the American Seed Trade Association announced that the Market Choices marketing program and certification mark is being suspended. Established in 2002 to help growers and grain handlers identify non-European Union approved corn hybrids, the Market Choices certification mark has been used industry-wide to help growers easily identify corn hybrids with enhanced traits, fully approved for food and feed use in the U.S., Canada and Japan, but not yet approved in the EU.
However the EU has lagged far behind the U.S. and the rest of the world in approving biotech traits. A zero tolerance for traits not fully approved in the EU has made importation of U.S. corn and derived products virtually impossible since 2007.
"Discussions have been held in the EU seeking an allowable tolerance for biotech traits approved in the U.S. but not in the EU to facilitate trade, but there is no indication that such a tolerance, if granted, would be at a commercially viable level for exports to continue from the United States," says ASTA President and CEO Andy LaVigne. "Most importantly, the EU regulatory system continues to be unpredictable with respect to the review and approval of biotechnology products, which negatively impacts Europe’s feed and livestock industries, growers, and ultimately consumers."
ASTA has spent the past year evaluating the future of the Market Choices certification mark. After careful consideration the decision was made to phase out the program by Fall 2009. LaVigne says if the EU provides either a commercially viable tolerance or a functioning regulatory program for biotech traits, ASTA would evaluate reestablishing the use of the Market Choices® certification mark and the related program with any appropriate adjustments needed to make the program effective.