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Monsanto seeks approval for its GM canola

(April 17, 2002 – CropChoice news) – Monsanto and Aventis are seeking U.S. government approval of genetically modified canola that likely already has found its way into the seed and food supply. The two biotechnology companies want to avoid a costly food recall similar to what happened when the unapproved StarLink transgenic corn found its way into the food supply in 2000.

The Aventis transgenic canola does not have approval for planting in the United States, though it is allowed to go directly from Canada to food processors. In the case of Monsanto, its GT-200 canola – engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) – doesn’t have approval for food use or for planting.

To deal with the food issue, Monsanto has gone to the Food and Drug Administration. It regards the transgenic canola as safe and seems inclined to tell Monsanto that it need not get mandatory approval for the canola.

On the issue of planting, Monsanto must deal with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its review of the canola’s agronomic and environmental effects. Skeptics of agricultural biotechnology want the Department to consider the implications of this canola cross-pollinating (or of seeds mixing during processing and distribution) with its conventional and organic counterparts. This has happened in Canada to such a degree that planting transgenic varieties is the only option left for farmers who want to grow the oilseed plant. They also point out that transgenic canola in Canada has gained resistance to other herbicides besides Roundup, spurring its transformation into something of a nuisance weed.

Joe Mendelson, legal director of the Center for Food Safety, scolded the FDA and the USDA for leaning toward approval of the genetically modified canola now, after it has possibly already contaminated the seed and food supply; the Center likely will file a lawsuit should the government approve GT-200.

Source: AP

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