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Monsanto's GE Wheat Stirs Up Major Resistance in Canada & Japan

1. Resistance in Canada to GM wheat heats up (AFP)
2. Japanese say no to genetically modified wheat

Mar 25, 2004

Resistance in Canada to GM wheat heats up

Canada's resistance to growing genetically modified wheat is intensifying,
with the nation's wheat export agency, ecologists and many growers warning
of a "terrible disaster" for the nation's agricultural industry.

"The greatest threat to wheat farming isn't hail or drought," reads an ad run
this week in a number of Canadian newspapers. "It's Roundup Ready Wheat."

The accusation comes from the ecology group Greenpeace, allied with three
agricultural groups.

Roundup Ready, a new variety of wheat genetically modified to make it more
resistant to herbicides, was developed by the agrochemical giant Monsanto.

Monsanto hopes in the near future to see its modified wheat growing across
Canada's vast prairies, but must first, as is the case with all new
biotechnology, get the green light from Canadian health authorities.

At the end of 2002, Monsanto submitted a request for approval to the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and is still awaiting a reply.

In the meantime, the company has passed an initial stage of the process,
winning approval in 2000 to sow Roundup Ready for trial purposes in fields
and confined spaces far from other crops.

Aware that more and more consumers abroad do not want genetically modified
foods on their tables, the semi-governmental Canadian Wheat Board (CWB),
which holds a monopoly on wheat exports from western Canada, views Roundup
Ready as a weed to be banished.

Armed with statistics, the CWB has warned its 85,000 member farmers of the
potential danger of genetically modified wheat for the health of an industry
that represents 20 percent of sales on the world market.

The CWB says consumers from countries demanding guarantees no GM organism is
present in wheat amount to 87 percent of those who buy Canadian wheat.

Those countries include Japan, which buys a million tonnes of Canadian wheat
per year, Mexico, Britain and Italy.

"We've all witnessed the devastation a single case of BSE (bovine spongiform
encephalopathy) has caused in Canada's beef industry," CWB administrative
board chief Ken Ritter told farm representatives.

"The introduction of GM wheat could cause similar devastation in our wheat
industry," he warned.

The Council of Canadians, a non-government organization, this week hosted a
group of Japanese activists who presented a petition to the Canadian
government urging it not to allow the introduction of GM wheat.

Japanese consumers, they said, would bypass Canadian wheat if there was any
risk it was contaminated with GM organisms.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency spokesman Alain Charette said this week that
examination of Monsanto's proposal for Roundup Ready was still incomplete.

"Our role is to determine whether a risk exists or not for the environment,"
said Charette, noting Canadian health authorities had no deadline to decide
on Monsanto's application.

Canada produces six percent of the world's GM crops, including soya and
corn, making it the world's third largest GM crop producer, though well behind the
United States, the world's number one, and Argentina.

This text also in The Age, Australia:
and in
Bismarck Tribune (North Dakota, USA)

Japanese say no to genetically modified wheat
By TONY SPILDE, Bismarck Tribune

While Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple is in Japan on a trade mission, a group of
Japanese consumer and food-industry groups are in Bismarck, saying they
won't buy wheat from the United States if it has been genetically modified.

The Japanese coalition will present a petition today to North Dakota
Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson. The petition has been signed by more
than 400 consumer groups and food-manufacturing companies, and represents
more than 1.1 million people from Japan.

According to the North Dakota Wheat Commission, Japan imports 50 million
bushels of spring wheat from North Dakota annually. That comes out to about
$190 million, without counting transportation costs.

Johnson said Japan is the No. 1 customer for North Dakota spring wheat.

"And they're here year in and year out," said Ellen Huber, spokeswoman for
the Wheat Commission. "They're very loyal customers. We need to be considerate
(in dealing with them)."

Before the trade mission, Dalrymple said Japan is one of the most important
export markets in terms of potential for North Dakota products.

The petition will be presented to Johnson in the Brynhild Haugland Room at
the State Capitol. It will take place from 9 a.m. to noon.

Wayne Fisher, a Dickinson farmer and representative of the Dakota Resource
Council, also will be present.

Members of the group from Japan include Keisuke Amagasa, president of NO!
GMO Campaign; Masako Koga, Consumers Union of Japan; Keiko Sakamoto, Green Co-op Union; Hiroshi Toyoshima, Association to Preserve the Earth; Etsuko Kondo,
Seikatsu Club Consumers Co-operative Union; and Ryoko Shimizu, Seikatsu Club
Consumers' Co-operative Union.

(Reach Tony Spilde at 250-8260 or