E-mail this article to
yourself or a friend.
Enter address:


Transgenic wheat worries Canadian Wheat Board

(Thursday, Jan. 9, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) via Agnet: Some industry groups, according to this story, expressed concern Wednesday over Monsanto's latest step toward government approval of its genetically modified wheat, saying too many unanswered questions about the crop remain.

Gord Flaten, director of market development with the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), was quoted as saying, "The bottom line is we think there needs to be a positive cost benefit for farmers before something like this gets introduced," adding that the regulatory process examines health and environmental aspects but market acceptance of Roundup Ready wheat needs to be considered, as well.

The CWB and other members of the Canadian Grain Industry Working Group recently released a discussion paper outlining conditions they feel need to be met before genetically modified wheat is introduced to the market. "Farmers are asking a lot of questions about how they are going to be able to manage their crop rotations in the presence of Roundup Ready wheat," Flaten said. The paper also identifies the potential contamination of conventional wheat and the difficulties and cost of trying to segregate the GM wheat as key issues.

Company spokesperson Trish Jordan was cited as saying that Monsanto made a final regulatory submission in late December to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which will review the environmental safety of Roundup Ready wheat as well as the safety of it for livestock feed, and Monsanto maintained it would tell people once the full regulatory application was complete, adding, "That's simply the process we're going through now. We have submitted our application for review but it's really important for people to understand that regulatory approval has nothing to do with commercial launch."

She said the application is an important step but it's only one of the requirements Monsanto is committed to meet.

Marketplace acceptance and the development of an effective grain handling system are among the issues that need to be resolved for the wheat, which is engineered to withstand doses of the Roundup herbicide, to launch as a commercial product, Jordan said.

Terry Hildebrandt, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, was cited as saying the onus is on Monsanto to provide some answers, adding, "They maybe don't realize the fight they have ahead of them if they get too forceful because industry is not about to accept it yet. We really don't see economic advantages to growing this particular GM wheat. There's nothing to entice us. The only benefit to registering it and getting it on the marketplace at this time would seem to be Monsanto's."