December 8, 2003

 

 

Monsanto Expects US' Approval of GM Wheat Within 3 Years
 

On December 5, the chairman of Monsanto Co said that the U.S. government would most probably take two to three years to approve the company's proposal to commercialize genetically modified wheat.

 

Hugh Grant, who is also Monsanto's chief executive officer, told reporters that approval of biotech varieties traditionally required two or three years in the United States and Canada. Grant said Monsanto intended to soon resubmit an application for U.S. approval of its biotech wheat.

 

"My guess is it's going to take two or three years to get regulatory approval," Grant said.

 

Monsanto wants government approval of a herbicide-tolerant biotech wheat hybrid. The Roundup Ready wheat, which could be commercially available within two years, would be the first biotech wheat in the world.

 

It was unclear when Monsanto would seek approval from Japan for its biotech wheat, he said. Japan, the biggest export market for U.S. wheat, has expressed concerns about any approval of a biotech variety in the United States, saying this could jeopardize future purchases by Japan.

 

Grant spoke to reporters after addressing an agricultural conference sponsored by Farm Journal.

 

American farmers have been enthusiastic about other genetically modified varieties of crops that Monsanto has produced, he said, with a satisfaction rate of about 95% or higher. "Wheat, I think, will beat that," Grant said, because it produces cleaner and higher quality grain.

 

Given European resistance to gene-spliced food, Grant said Monsanto did not expect to sell biotech seed in Europe "anytime soon."

 

Monsanto also will be wary of introducing new biotech varieties in South America unless the company can be sure of compensation, Grant said. Monsanto has complained repeatedly that growers, especially in Brazil, have pirated its herbicide-tolerant soybean varieties.

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