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Monsanto pulls applications for GM wheat

(Tuesday, June 22, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- Toronto Star, 06/19/04: Monsanto Co. has formally withdrawn submissions for its genetically modified wheat from all regulatory agencies except the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a company spokesperson said yesterday. The withdrawal is the last step in Monsanto's announcement last month that it would shelve plans to introduce the world's first GM wheat, spokesperson Chris Horner said. "It's a natural part of the process that we announced last month," Horner said.

Monsanto had asked for government approvals for the GM wheat in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and Columbia, Horner said. The company and regulators in the countries "mutually agreed" that Monsanto should withdraw its submissions, he said. Monsanto had planned to commercialize the wheat for growth in Canada and the United States, but ran into opposition from export buyers who worried their consumers would reject it.

Canadian and U.S. farm groups and exporters worried that the modified wheat could not be kept separate from their traditional crops, putting other grains at risk of rejection from buyers. Environmental groups around the world also demonstrated against the wheat because of safety fears. Monsanto has said it would wait to resume work on the wheat, designed to resist applications of its Roundup weed killer, until other types of GM wheat are commercialized. In the U.S., Monsanto withdrew submissions to the U.S. department of agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, but will proceed with an application at the Food and Drug Administration. Approval there would establish that the wheat is safe for human and livestock consumption. "It would be one less regulatory approval to obtain, if and when that day ever comes," Horner said.

Approval from the FDA alone would not be enough to allow Monsanto to commercialize the wheat, he said. Monsanto withdrew all its feed, food and environmental applications in Canada, where the Canadian Wheat Board had threatened to sue the company if it received approvals. "Monsanto has made the right decision," said Louise Waldman, a spokesperson for the wheat board. The board continues to lobby Ottawa to change its regulatory process to consider the market effect of modified wheat before any decision, she said.

WORC news release: Monsanto pulls applications for GM wheat

(Sunday, June 20, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- From a news release:
CONTACT: Wayne Fisher, 701-225-2563, WORC spokesperson; John Smillie or Kevin Dowling, WORC staff, 406-252-9672

BILLINGS, MONT. – Monsanto’s withdrawal of applications for approval of genetically modified wheat gives state lawmakers an opportunity to develop policies on new genetically modified crops before they hit crisis stage, the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) said today.

Monsanto has withdrawn all submissions it had made for regulatory approval of Roundup Ready wheat, except to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the company said today. Last month, Monsanto announced it was deferring research and development of genetically modified wheat indefinitely.

“We applaud Monsanto for this responsible decision,” said Wayne Fisher, a wheat grower from Dickinson, N.D., and WORC spokesperson. “Monsanto has honored our wishes as well as those of grain buyers and foreign consumers. Failure to do so would have meant a disaster for wheat farmers. This gives our state legislatures the space they need to craft laws to deal with new genetically modified crops before they hit crisis stage.”

A WORC report on the market risk of genetically modified wheat indicated that European and Asian grain buyers would refuse to buy any spring or durum wheat from states or regions growing genetically modified wheat. As a result, the price of spring wheat would decline by at least one-third if genetically modified wheat was introduced commercially within the next two to six years, according to the report released in October.

Fisher said WORC will continue to monitor Monsanto and other biotech companies developing genetically modified wheat.


WORC is a network of grassroots organizations from seven states that include 8,750 members and 49 local community groups. WORC represents farmers and ranchers in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Idaho, and Oregon. WORC’s report on market risk is available at http://www.worc.org .