December 19, 2003


Monsanto Canada To Prolong Genetically Modified Wheat Test


Monsanto's Canadian division has decided not to get its genetically modified registered. Instead, Monsanto will continue to test its wheat until it becomes more accepted by the industry.


Monsanto has completed three years of field tests on several lines of GM wheat, designed to withstand its Roundup weedkiller.


Under Canadian rules, it could ask an industry body, the Prairie Registration Recommending Committee for Grains, to review its agronomic data. The committee is responsible for advising the federal government on what varieties of grain should be registered for commercial use in Canada.


"However, Monsanto does not intend to bring forward any of our current lines for recommendation at the 2004 annual meeting," wrote Curtis Rempel, who heads the GM wheat project for Monsanto Canada, in a memo to the committee, which is scheduled to meet on Feb. 24 to Feb. 26.


Meanwhile, Canadian government regulators who reviewing food, feed and environmental safety data on GM wheat have not yet approved the crop for release.


The Canadian Wheat Board has said it worries registering the wheat could turn many of its foreign buyers off Canadian wheat because of consumer concerns in other countries about GM crops.


The decision to hold off asking for registration "has no commercial impact on this project," Rempel said in the memo, noting the company remains committed to selling GM wheat when it can prove it can be kept separate from traditional wheat and has customers lined up to buy it.

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