The major party candidates for Governor are weighing in on the controversy over a new-fangled type of corn grown to produce pharmaceutical drugs. The biotechnology industry organization has issued a statement, saying the new varieties should not be raised in Iowa and other corn-growing states. Doug Gross, the Republican candidate for Governor, says Iowa needs to act quickly to ensure farmers can grow the cutting-edge crop. Gross says such “bio-farming” has ten-times the income potential for farmers compared to traditional corn. The concern is that such crops will contaminate nearby fields — it’s called cross-pollenization — and it happened with StarLink corn a couple years ago. Gross says if he’s elected, he’ll ask experts from Iowa State University, Iowa seed companies and state officials to develop regulations or a set protocols for bio-farming so the corn can be planted here. He says plots of this kind of corn are small, under 25 acres, and it presents a golden opportunity to revitalize rural areas by fostering more and smaller farms. Gross says Iowa can’t afford to be shut-out of growing this kind of corn. He says Governor Vilsack, who’s chairman of the National Governors Association partnership on biotechnology, hasn’t provided any leadership on the issue. Vilsack today sent a letter to the biotechnology industry group, accusing it of trying to keep “the nation’s most-productive farmers…out of this emerging industry.” Vilsack said the policy was a “knee-jerk reaction” not based on scientific evidence. Vilsack pledged to work with the association to write new standards that would allow bio-pharmaceuticals to be grown in Iowa.
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