April 1, 2004



Bayer Abandons UK GM Corn Plan


Bayer AG abandoned plans to introduce a variety of genetically modified animal-feed corn in the U.K., saying it won't make money because of conditions the government said it would attach to cultivation of the crop.


Issues such as how close the corn could be planted to non- genetically modified crops, what would be the acceptable level of cross-contamination and who would be liable for damages have yet to be determined, Bayer CropScience spokesman Lutz Knabe said.


"It is unclear when the conditions would be decided, and we wouldn't get approval for the crop until they were," Knabe said. Delays had cost Chardon LL corn its competitive edge, and U.K. demand for feed corn is "very limited" anyway, he said.


Five years after the seeds were first approved in the Netherlands, Chardon LL still isn't commercially grown anywhere in the European Union. U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair's government on March 9 endorsed its commercial planting, the country's first such approval for a genetically modified crop.


The EU hasn't licensed the cultivation, processing or marketing of any new genetically modified crops or products since 1998, prompting complaints to the World Trade Organization by the U.S., Canada and Argentina, the biggest producers.


Companies including Bayer, Germany's No. 2 drug and chemical company, Monsanto Co., Syngenta AG, Dow Chemical Co. and Danisco A/S are seeking approval of 27 gene-altered products. EU farm ministers will decide next month on whether to grant marketing approval for an insect-resistant corn developed by Syngenta for human consumption, called Bt11.


Bayer doesn't expect genetically modified corn to be commercialized in Europe before 2008, Knabe said. He declined to say how much Bayer has invested in developing the crop, acquired when it bought Aventis CropScience in 2002. Bayer CropScience sales last year were 5.8 billion euros ($7 billion).

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