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GM wheat moratorium needed

(Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- R.J. Stohler, Grand Forks Herald, 10/21/2002: Greg Daws in an Agweek article (Beyond Roundup, Sept. 9, page 34) mentions Japan not accepting wheat contaminated with vomitoxin, implying acceptance of genetically modified wheat that is vomitoxin free. Later, the reporter says, “Daws is aware that the Japanese and others don't want GM wheat any more than they want vomitoxin.”

How confused can one be, especially with the issue of markets as clear-cut as it is?

One example, Rank Hovis, an overseas buyer, in the North Dakota Wheat Commission's July to August 2002 newsletter, states that, “I am going to ask you not to grow genetically modified wheat until we are able to sell in our market the bread made from the flour made from that wheat. I cannot tell you how to run your business - but if you do grow genetically modified or enhanced wheat, we will not be able to buy any of your wheat - neither the GM nor the conventional. The latter because we will not be able to guarantee the integrity of even the conventional to zero content of GM.”

Ron Olson, vice president of General Mills, also comments, “When you inject a supply-driven concept into a demand-driven market, it's a recipe for failure.”

Can one speak more clearly than that?

GM wheat development

Daws wants an “education process.” He suggests trade missions. Those usually have involved such groups as the North Dakota Wheat Commission, North Dakota Farm Bureau, North Dakota Farmers Union, U.S. Wheat Associates, North Dakota Grain Dealers, Cenex-Harvest States, Southwest Grain Cooperative and the elevators.


These organizations should not spend one penny to help in the marketing, let alone the developing of GM wheat.

How about Spring Wheat Bakers? Its member-oriented organization image already is damaged with the $500,000 bailout from Monsanto. Maybe North Dakota State University in Fargo or other universities? Its kowtowing to the demands and money of Monsanto and similar corporate interests already has tainted its integrity. Just maybe North Dakota Grain Growers has the money to fund developing and marketing GM wheat. These three groups would be foolish indeed to take up this program.

Whose responsibility is it to develop acceptance of GM wheat?

Monsanto and any company that wishes to market or develop these types of products, that's who. They assume farmers will pay for the development and marketing of a Monsanto product, before there is a product to sell to them. As ever, Monsanto wants to let farmers and taxpayers bear the costs and risks of this scheme.

Market acceptance

Daws' “out of the box thinking” would float dirigibles carrying barge loads of wheat 100 feet above the ground. It's a good idea with a few big difficulties. Such problems would involve running into transmission lines, wind turbines, crashing like the Hindenberg. Don't forget the problem of leaking barges of GM wheat contaminating the countryside from coast to coast. Who has not followed a canvas-covered truck on the way to the elevator, and had to avoid the grains being blown back?

It is good to see Daws and his friends worry about market acceptance and the problems of segregation. They seem to be hoping that this all falls together before it is too late rather than taking a proactive position to keep GM wheat out until these problems are solved, nor do they seem aware that in many countries, wheat and bread have a sacred status. They will not permit any tampering with the staff of life.

Now is the time to support and urge our legislators to adopt a GM wheat moratorium until all of these problems are addressed and resolved.

Editor's Note: Stohler is from West Fargo, N.D.