February 5, 2004

 

 

Monsanto To Proceed With GM Wheat Plan

 

Monsanto will proceed with marketing genetically modified (GM) wheat, unless they receive strong retaliation from farmers, a company spokesperson says.

 

People involved with the biotech giant's plan to market GM wheat say Monsanto still wants to register Roundup Ready wheat for commercial use, after spending millions of dollars developing a genetically modified strain resistant to the their herbicide Roundup.

 

Monsanto plans to bring their product to market when farmers and trading partners are ready for it, despite the fact that demand for the strain is admittedly still unclear.

 

In fact, some customers have said they don't want to buy it and farmers have said they don't want to grow it.

 

Nevertheless Peter Phillips, who co-chairs the Canadian Advisory Committee on Biotechnology, says customers and farmers can quickly change their minds.

 

"Until you actually have an example, a tonne of a product, or a loaf of bread, or something that has to go through the system, it's really hard to tell how the market will respond," he said. "People will say one thing and do the other."

 

That's why Monsanto remains committed to GM wheat.

 

Company spokesperson Trish Jordan says it will take at least a year before Roundup Ready Wheat gets the necessary approval to go to market and Monsanto has promised it won't try selling the wheat until markets say they want it and certain conditions are met.

 

"You still need to have a system in place to handle the grain," Jordan said. "You still need to have a system in place that will maintain choice for farmers and for buyers. So we're just saying, 'look let's just get all these things set up.' "

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