As planting for the 2012 season approaches, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) notes that newly revamped on-farm refuge assessments are part of the enhanced Compliance Assurance Program (CAP) implemented last year, which is designed to improve compliance with Insect Resistance Management (IRM) requirements.

Corn growers found to be out of compliance with refuge requirements will be checked more frequently by the Bt corn registrants and have a higher probability of losing access to Bt corn if compliance is not established and maintained.  

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

The year’s report is the first following the implementation of the enhanced CAP.

“To implement the CAP, technology providers made some major changes to their procedures last year as directed by EPA,” said Mike Smith, ABSTC IRM subcommittee co-chairman.

“One of the changes was the selection process for on-farm assessments. In past years, we’ve randomly selected those participants, but in 2011 we used a more targeted approach and conducted assessments based on purchase history, and, as anticipated, using this methodology resulted in the identification of more non-compliant growers than in years past.

“Changes were also made to the grower survey and included more Bt corn products with differing refuge requirements.”

The survey results include compliance with refuge requirements for corn borer traits and rootworm traits, either alone or in stacked Bt corn products, regardless of refuge size differences.
Highlights of the report include:

• The CAP for all Bt corn products with structured refuge requirements continues to be effective. In 2011, 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 vast majority of all Bt corn fields have an associated refuge.

• The majority of growers found out of compliance in 2010 were found to be complying with the IRM requirements during the 2011 growing season. This result is consistent with previous years and confirms that the CAP’s phase compliance approach in which non-compliant growers were provided additional educational materials and re-assessed in 2011 is working.