New Lab Will Help Ensure Crop Purity

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State agriculture officials say a new laboratory in Springfield will help ensure that export markets remain open to Illinois farmers.

The $344,000 lab provides the tools to quickly determine the genetic traits of seed corn and soybeans. The state's agriculture products inspection chief, Jim Larkin says tests that used to take weeks to complete now will take only a day or two.

Agriculture Department spokesman Jeff Squibb says the tests will help keep biotech crops from being mingled with conventional crops that are intended for export to countries that ban genetically altered grain.

The lab will test samples gathered by state inspectors, but farmers or seed companies also can request a test. Squibb says single-trait tests are $20 each.