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Monsanto persists in bid to introduce genetically modified wheat to Canada

(Friday, June 27, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- WINNIPEG, Canada (AFP) - Monsanto's Canadian subsidiary said it would maintain its request to the Canadian Wheat Board to introduce the genetically modified wheat variety "Roundup Ready" into Canada.

Monsanto Canada said in a letter to the CWB made public Wednesday that it was "responsible and appropriate" to keep up its efforts to get Canadian approval for field trials of the GM wheat, believed to have increased resistance to herbicides.

Research by Monsanto "demonstrate there are benefits associated with Roundup Ready wheat," the group said over the latest attempt to get approval. It last approached the Board over the matter a year ago.

Earlier Wednesday CWB president Adrian Measner said in London maximum efforts would be made to prevent Monsanto introducing GM wheat into the Canadian market until a more appropriate time.

"We will do everything in our power to ensure that GM wheat is not introduced in Canada until customers and farmers want it," said Measner, speaking at the International Grains Conference.

"The CWB (wheat marketing board) has therefore formally requested that Monsanto withdraw its approval application.

"Canadian farmers are overwhelming opposed to Roundup Ready wheat because they can't see a clear benefit for their bottom line and worry about long-term agronomic and market impacts," Measner said.

"However, they are being careful not to completely close the door on GM wheat in case future varieties can be developed with clear benefits, such as disease resistance."

But he added: "We cannot support the unconfined release of a GM variety that may subject Canadian farmers to negative market or agronomic impacts."

Measner said that 80 percent of Canadian consumers do not want GM wheat.

"They want assurances that Canadian wheat will not be in danger of contamination from GM varieties. We are determined to satisfy their requirements" he told the IGC meeting in London.

The European Union (news - web sites) has a ban on the import of genetically modified foods, which would exclude from the European market Monsanto's proposed new wheat strain and any food products made with it.