Organic Consumers Association

Kraft & Monsanto Think They Can Cram GE Wheat Down Consumers Throats

US consumers will not shun biotech wheat - Kraft
USA: December 18, 2003

WASHINGTON - U.S. consumers will most likely accept genetically
engineered wheat in their bread, breakfast cereal and pasta as biotech
crops are already widely used in many food products, a Kraft Foods Inc.
official said this week.

Despite very public anti-biotech campaigns from some consumer advocates
and environmental groups, Americans have not shunned food products that
contain genetically engineered corn (maize) and soybeans. "My personal
guess is that (biotech wheat) probably won't have a significant impact
on consumers based on how they react to corn and soybeans," said Ron
Triani, senior director of scientific relations for Kraft North
America_(KFT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) , at a biotech policy forum.

Biotech company Monsanto Co. (MON.N: Quote, Profile, Research) has said
it could receive U.S. approval to commercialize the world's first
biotech wheat variety within the next few years.

While soybeans, corn and a few other crops have been genetically
modified for years, wheat would be the first true biotech food grain.
Corn and soybeans primarily are used in livestock rations, but are also
used in food.

"I think consumers are going to look at (biotech) wheat differently,"
said Gregory Jaffe, biotech director for the Center for Science in the
Public Interest.

Even if Monsanto wins approval, company officials have insisted it would
not market biotech wheat until growers and consumers were comfortable
with it.

"We are going to introduce this product when the market is ready," said
Jerry Steiner, Monsanto's vice president.

Kraft said it will take a "hard look" at the safety of biotech wheat and
its acceptance among consumers before allowing the crops into its

Most panel members agreed that biotech crops should be required to
receive food safety approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
Currently, the FDA review is voluntary.

"FDA authority to say biotech products are safe would help consumer
confidence here and abroad," Jaffe said.

Story by Randy Fabi



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