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October 8, 1999

Attorney General's Farm Division Warns Producers About Forms Concerning Genetically Modified Grain

The Attorney General's Office advises farmers NOT to use a new grain certification form that greatly expands producers' liability if there is a problem later with the grain.

DES MOINES-- The Attorney General's Farm Division today advised corn and soybean producers not to market their grain with a new certification form that greatly expands their potential liability if there is a problem down the marketing chain concerning genetically-modified grain.

Assistant Attorney General Steve Moline said a Proposed Uniform Certification form circulated recently by the Farm Division has been closely replicated by another organization -- but that the new form contains what Moline called "a crucial change that poses a real threat to producers."

Moline said: "We advise producers NOT to use this new form, which greatly expands their potential liability. For example, let's say a grain dealer ships grain to Europe and it is rejected because it includes genetically-modified grain. It becomes a costly and tangled legal issue. With the clause in this new form, producers could be stuck with extraordinary costs including attorney fees, litigation costs, delivery costs, and other substantial liabilities."

"Frankly, in our opinion there is a good form to use and a bad one, and they look very similar," Moline said. "Be sure to use the right form."

The form recommended by the Attorney General's Farm Division and Dr. Neil Harl of Iowa State University is available from ISU Extension Offices, at the web site of the Grain Quality Initiative (, and from the Farm Division at 515-281-5351. Persons with questions also may contact the Farm Division.

The form created by the Farm Division and ISU gives producers a formal means to declare what kind of seed they used for their crops (the brand and variety), and essentially to certify whether they took measures to completely segregate their crop from "GMO" or genetically-modified grain. GMO grain is a controversial issue in some parts of the world, presenting new and tricky issues for producers and others in the chain of grain distribution.

"The reason we developed the uniform certification form was to give producers a safe and effective way to deal with GMO issues," Moline said. "The new form looks remarkably like the one we distributed, but we think its language poses a real threat to producers. Be sure to use the right form," he said.

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