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Canadian and U.S. farm groups unite on transgenic wheat ban

(April 16, 2002 – CropChoice news) -- The National Farmers Union of Canada and the National Family Farm Coalition announced today an effort to stop the introduction of transgenic wheat in North America.

"Banning GM wheat is crucial to the survival of the North American farmers who grow wheat," said Terry Boehm, a wheat producer from Allan, Saskatchewan and an NFU Board member. "We export most of our wheat and our foreign buyers have made it perfectly clear that they want nothing to do with genetically modified food."

Nearly 70 percent of Canadian wheat and more than 50 percent of U.S. wheat is exported. According to Canadian Wheat Board estimates, two-thirds of international buyers do not want to buy genetically modified wheat. A survey of the U.S. customer base for hard red spring wheat indicates that 65 percent are opposed to Roundup Ready (RR) wheat technology. This consumer opposition is connected to the industry's failure to engage in long-term testing of potential health hazards of genetically engineered plants prior to their introduction into the global food supply.

Monsanto, a multi-national agribusiness conglomerate based in the United States, holds patents on technology that uses genetic-modification to make plants tolerant to the pesticide glyphosate, which is marketed under the trade name "Roundup." Monsanto has announced that it will be seeking approval from the U.S. and Canadian governments for commercial introduction of "Roundup Ready" wheat in 2005.

"We have been working to prevent the spread of genetically-modified crops on both sides of the border," said National Farmers Union Women’s President Shannon Storey, "but Monsanto has been playing us against each other, claiming that we have to grow it or lose our market advantage to farmers who will. That strategy ends today."

"Monsanto’s promises simply do not match reality," says Bill Christison, a Missouri farmer and president of the National Family Farm Coaltion. He continued: "We have watched foreign markets evaporate and prices fall for farmers using GM corn and soybean products and we have learned our lessons well." U.S. corn producers have lost $200 million in annual sales to markets in the European Union alone, which established a moratorium on GM products in 1998.

For more information, contact:

  • Shannon Storey, NFU Women’s President, 306.477.8803 or 306.652.9465
  • Terry Boehm, NFU Board Member, 306.255.2880 or 306. 257.3689
  • Bill Christison, NFFC President, 660.684.6456
  • Dena Hoff, NFFC Trade Taskforce Chair, 406.687.3645