Analysis:- GM sugar delay raises doubts on prospects
July 10, 2000
LONDON -- According to this story, long delays in marketing genetically
modified (GM) sugar, due to resistance from environmental and consumer
groups, raise questions about its future viability. The story says that GM
sugar beet has been approved for growing in the United States but farmers
are stalling because soft drinks, food and other industrial users are concerned
about growing consumer doubts over its safety.
Lindsay Jolly, an economist at the London-based International Sugar
Organization (ISO) was quoted as saying, "U.S. (beet) farmers got cold feet
just before the planting season last year." She says that in addition to the U.S.,
China is expected to start growing GM beets soon and Australia and South Africa
could follow with GM cane. In Britain, two GM herbicide-resistant beet varieties
Monsanto Plc¼s "Roundup Ready" and Novartis AG¼s "Liberty Link" have been tested for many
years but not yet cleared for food use.
The European Union is still laboriously trying to agree on rules for GM crop
production and marketing, the next EU legislative milestone being the
completion of a review of an environmental impact directive, scheduled for
summer 2001. An EU novel feeds directive also still has to be approved.
Colin Merritt, Monsanto Plc¼s biotechnology development manager, was quoted
as saying, "It¼s a legislative labyrinth. EU rules are in flux while in the
U.S. and rest of the world things are romping away." GM supporters argue that
if other sugar-producing countries grow GM sugar, and the World Trade Organization
(WTO) dismantles import barriers, then British and other EU farmers will no longer
be able to compete. But they say rational debate within Europe has become difficult and the
health, environmental and regulatory issues have become muddled.
Food and Agricultural Policy Researcher
London N1 2PN
tel: + 44 (0)207 865 8177
fax: +44 (0)207 865 8202