February 26, 2004
Key Asian, Euro Markets Not Ready To Accept GM Wheat
Genetically modified U.S. wheat will have great difficulty penetrating key markets in Asia and Europe, a wheat market expert said on Wednesday.
"The resistance remains very high," said U.S. Wheat Associates vice president John Oades.
Oades, who directs the U.S. organization's Pacific Rim market development team, said China's approvals this month for the import of genetically modified soybeans, corn and cotton developed by Monsanto Co. was not likely to lower the level of opposition elsewhere to genetically modified food products.
"In China it is evolving forward in a positive way. But I don't see that in Japan or Europe," Oades said.
China has only recently emerged as a significant buyer of U.S. wheat, but Japan and Europe are key customers.
U.S. farmers fear that, if Monsanto releases what would be the world's first genetically altered wheat variety, their foreign customers will boycott U.S. wheat.
Monsanto is in the final stages of the regulatory approval process in the United States, seeking the green light to release a spring wheat that is resistant to Monsanto's Roundup weed killer.
The company has said it will wait for import approvals in Japan before it releases the wheat commercially, but it has rejected wheat industry requests that it wait for EU acceptance.