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RESEARCH REPORTS
GROWERS MAINTAINED STEADY IRM ADHERENCE IN 2002
For the third year in a row, a large majority of corn growers responsibly managed Bt hybrids, according to a recent survey required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

More than 550 growers responded to the survey conducted during the 2002 growing season among Bt corn users in the Corn Belt and Cotton Belt. Participants in the study reported planting an average of 502 corn acres in 2002, 57 percent of which was Bt corn. The survey was conducted in cooperation with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) by an independent research firm for the Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee (ABSTC).

The survey found 86 percent of growers who planted Bt corn in 2002 met at least the minimum refuge size Insect Resistance Management (IRM) requirement. Eighty-nine percent of growers planted all of their Bt cornfields within the required one-half mile of a non-Bt refuge.

What's more, the survey results indicate that almost 80 percent of the growers who used insecticides regularly (four or five of the previous five years) report decreasing their insecticide use to control corn borers since the introduction of Bt corn.

The survey results also confirmed findings from previous years that the vast majority of growers - 93 percent - believe IRM is important. The survey showed a sharp increase in grower awareness and familiarity of IRM requirements in 2002. Eighty-eight percent of Bt corn growers said they were aware of IRM requirements, which is eight percentage points higher than in 2001. Additionally, 89 percent of Bt corn growers said they received enough information to properly implement a refuge in 2002, an increase from 74 percent in 2001.

According to the survey, most growers recall having received on average four pieces of IRM information each year. Seed companies and seed dealers were considered the most important sources of IRM information, and 79 percent report having received IRM information from these sources in 2002. Additionally, a new IRM Compliance Assurance Program (CAP) required by the EPA was recently introduced to further educate and train those growers not meeting the IRM requirements. Under the CAP, seed companies must conduct on-farm visits to check for compliance and deny access to Bt corn to growers and dealers who repeatedly do not meet their IRM stewardship obligations. AM

For additional information on the Insect Resistance Management study, visit www.ncga.com.


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