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Canadian government research links Roundup herbicide to wheat disease

(Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- From a news release:

Contact: Pat Venditti, Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Campaign, 416.597.8408, ext. 3017 or Cell 416.450.2439

Toronto, ON- Agriculture and Agri-food Canada researchers will release information next week that reveals a demonstrable link between the use of glyphosate herbicide formulations and increases incidence of fusarium head blight, a scourge of Western Canadian farmers. Fusarium head blight produces a toxin that makes infected wheat unsuitable for human or animal consumption.

“These results indicate that the herbicides most widely used with genetically engineered crops are partly to blame for increases in the development of fusarium head blight,” said Pat Venditti, Genetic Engineering Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. “This is one more reason why the government should deny approval for Monsanto’s genetically engineered wheat.”

A decision on whether or not the government will approve Monsanto’s genetically engineered Roundup Ready wheat is pending. Roundup Ready wheat has been developed to withstand applications of glyphosate herbicides. Glyphosate herbicide formulations such as Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide are widely used on cropland that has been planted with genetically engineered seeds such as Roundup Ready canola, or Roundup Ready soya.

Last week, the CBC revealed that Agriculture and Agri-food Canada stands to gain financial benefits from Monsanto if Roundup Ready wheat is sold commercially.

“The research being done by researchers at AAFC Swift Current is the type research that is needed prior to any GE crop release,” said Mr. Venditti. “The Minister should take this into account and clearly reject Monsanto’s application for the environmental release of GE wheat. Farmers, not Monsanto, should benefit from the farm policy of the government.”

An abstract of the study “Identification of crop production factors associated with the development of Fusarium head blight in spring wheat in southeast Saskatchewan” is available on the web at http://www.umanitoba.ca/afs/agronomists_conf/program.html The study results will be released Wednesday, December 10th, in Winnipeg.