Monsanto's Canola Seed Contaminated
With Unapproved Varieties

Evidence Reveals that Illegal Genetically Engineered Seeds Contaminate
U.S. Canola Crops

Consumer-Environmental Coalition Files Legal Action Seeking Criminal
Investigation of Monsanto and Aventis

For Immediate Release:

Joseph Mendelson, CFS, (202) 547-9359
Amanda Gordon, NET, (202) 887-8831

Washington, DC - Today, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a legal
petition with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeking
a criminal investigation of two biotechnology companies, Monsanto and
Aventis. The petition is filed on behalf of CFS and the Genetically
Engineered Food Alert (GEFA) coalition. It describes newly discovered
evidence that genetically engineered canola seed not approved in the
United States may have illegally entered into the commercial US seed
supply, potentially contaminating canola seed already sold to farmers.

In the past months, two of the country's largest agribusiness
corporations, Monsanto and Aventis, have applied for commercial approval
of three varieties of canola, GT200 (Monsanto), Topas 19/2 (Aventis) and
RF1 (Aventis). None of these three canola varieties is currently
approved for commercial sale in the United States. The USDA, the
federal agency with control over planting and seed sale permission, has
not yet approved these canola varieties over concerns that crops can be
plant pests. Yet the companies admit that the new varieties may have
contaminated U.S. seed supplies, and are now applying for approval in an
attempt to avoid a massive food and seed recall.

The Center for Food Safety discovered this new evidence of GE seed
contamination through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The
FOIA documents and USDA environmental assessments clearly show that both
companies were aware of the contamination with the illegal seeds and
sought USDA approval in an attempt to avoid liability. Included in the
materials that the Center for Food Safety requested was a letter from
Monsanto from last November to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
in which the company admits to potential contamination. "Although
glyphosate-tolerant canola event GT200 is not intended to be
commercialized . . .[it] has the potential to be present in low,
adventitious levels in commercial canola varieties." (Letter to USDA
from Monsanto, November 9, 2001)

"This is genetic pollution of our food supply," explained Joseph
Mendelson, Legal Director for the Center for Food Safety. "And now
Monsanto and Aventis are asking the USDA for a cover-up. We are
demanding a full criminal investigation of two the companies, and an
inquiry into USDA's actions in not making this matter public."

Monsanto was faced with a similar seed contamination situation in 1997.
At that time, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency ("CFIA") suspended the
sale of a Monsanto genetically engineered Roundup Ready canola due to
the fact that it was contaminated with an unapproved variety event
GT200. The suspension led to a subsequent recall of 60,000 bags of
contaminated canola seed (enough to plant 600,000 acres) and forced the
Canadian government to broker deals with farmers to plow under fields
already planted with the contaminated seed. According to Monsanto, the
problem may have occurred because the company allowed the seeds to get
mixed up and bred together.

"Once again we are faced with a regulatory breakdown with regards to
genetically engineered foods; a case in which government oversight has
been lax and laws has been broken," said Matt Rand, Biotechnology
Campaign Manager for the National Environmental Trust.


For a full copy of the petition or further information, please visit and

"This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in
accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws."

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