Monsanto Frantically Recalls GE Canola Seed
in Canada

Monsanto replacing GMO canola seed in Canada
(UPDATE: new throughout)
By Kanina Holmes

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 25 (Reuters) - Two of Canada's major
grain companies deployed dozens of employees and a fleet of trucks as
they scrambled to retrieve thousands of bags of a genetically modified
canola seed that Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MON - news) voluntarily recalled
on Wednesday after discovering trace amounts of an alternate version of
a genetic trait.

``If we see a farmer in the field and we know that farmer purchased Quest,
we'll be stopping him right on his seeder,'' said Diane Wreford, a
spokeswoman for Agricore.

``We're taking this very seriously because this is a potential trade
issue,'' Wreford said.

Monsanto said that the quality tests on canola seed, initially conducted by
Saskatchewan Wheat Pool late last week, had detected trace levels of an
alternative version of the Roundup Ready trait, a version that has not been
registered for canola by Japan, Canada's largest canola seed customer, or
the United States, the largest buyer of Canadian canola oil and meal.

Monsanto's ``Roundup Ready'' series of soybean and canola seeds, engineered
to withstand the company's popular Roundup herbicide, are the most
widespread GMO oilseeds planted inNorth America. The Quest canola variety
represented between 10 and 12 percent of the 12 million canola acres
seededin western Canada last year.

Monsanto, the St Louis, Missouri-based biotechnology company, has been one
of the biggest boosters of the use of GM crops globally. The company said
that it was working with the two western Canadian distributors of Quest,
Agricore and the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, on the voluntary withdrawal and
replacement of the seed for spring planting.

``What's key here is we identified it, we reported it and we're addressing
it proactively,'' said Loren Wassell, a spokesperson from Monsanto's
Winnipeg office.

``This is a product that's fully approved for food, for feed and for planting.
There are no health, safety or environmental issues,'' said Wassell.

Late last year, discovery of traces of a GMO corn variety, StarLink,
unapproved for use in foods, caused a massive recall of tacos and other
foods in the U.S. and Japan, and cost its manufacturer, Aventis SA unit
Aventis CropScience millions of dollars and put world corn trade on a roller

Vocal opponents to GMO crops have also used the StarLink debacle to raise
consumer demands for more testing, segregation and labeling of GMO seeds and

While the Quest recall was not based on food safety concerns, officials from
Agricore and Monsanto nevertheless moved quickly on Wednesday to reassure
overseas buyers.

``We have people now on their way to Japan to talk to the processors and to
just assure them that we're doing everything we can to work with them,''
said Wreford, speaking from Agricore's head office in Winnipeg.

Canada's canola industry welcomed the complete recall of Quest, but
expressed concerns about potential damage to its export markets.

``I hope it's perceived as stewardship,'' said Dale Adolphe, president of
the Canola Council of Canada.

``We just don't need this type of thing to happen and so we are reacting
from the standpoint of trying to create confidence in the system for our
Japanese customers, our U.S. customers,'' said Adolphe.

Canada ships about 1.8 million tonnes of canola seed annually to Japan,
worth about C$800 million. Exports of canola meal and oil to the U.S. amount
to 1.2 million tonnes annually or about C$500 million per year.

Staff at the two Canadian grain handlers involved in Wednesday's recall
spent the day phoning farmers. Saskatchewan Wheat Pool had orders for Quest
from between 2,000 to 2,500 producers, company officials said.

``The vast majority of our seed is still in our distribution system. Only a
portion of it is on farm,'' said Len Posyniak, vice president of human
resources and communications at Saskpool.

Posyniak said a very small amount of the canola would have been seeded this
early in the season. About 500 tonnes of the Quest seeds were estimated to
be on farm.

Agricore officials said they expected to have its recall operation, the cost
of which was still unknown, completed by the end of the day.

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