Monsanto Admits Defeat on
Getting New Frankencrops

Chemical Week
August 28, 2002 /
September 4, 2002

Monsanto Scales Back GM Crop Approval Targets

Monsanto says it could take until 2005 to gain regulatory approval from
European and Brazilian regulators for its genetically modified (GM) crops.
It has been seeking approval in those regions since 1998. Monsanto CEO
Hendrik Verfaillie admits that the company may have been overly optimistic.

"It is better to under-promise than under-deliver, I have learned,"
Verfaillie says. Monsanto had acknowledged it would be tough to gain
consumer and regulatory approval of GM foods in Europe, but the company was
more optimistic about Brazil. Monsanto said in 2000 that it expected to gain
approval in Brazil in time for the 2003 planting season, which begins next
month. Monsanto spent $ 550 million on a production facility at Camacari,
Brazil for its glyphosate herbicide Roundup, which is used in conjunction
with its Roundup Ready GM crops (CW, Sept. 23, 1998, p. 35). However,
concern in Brazil that GM crops would hurt trade with its key European
export markets, as well as opposition from environmental groups, has stalled
the regulatory approval process. Local regulators have also ordered the
company to conduct environmental impact analyses.

Six European nations said in 1998 that they would not approve GM crops
unless extensive testing and tracking rules were implemented. European
politicians said earlier this month that they were being pressured by the
U.S. to accept GM crops. U.K. Environment Minister Michael Meacher recently
said that that the government would not bow to pressure from the U.S. to
approve the crops.

A mix-up in GM seeds used for U.K. crop trials has prompted renewed concern
in Europe about the ability of companies to keep unauthorized genetic
material from entering the market. Some oilseed rape seeds provided by
Aventis CropScience were recently found to contain an unauthorized genetic
material that makes the seeds resistant to certain antibiotics. The seeds
were used in two test crops in Scotland and 12 crops in England. The
unauthorized seeds were inadvertently planted in the test crops due to a
mix-up at Aventis CropScience's seed processing facility. Regulators say the
crops will be destroyed and that the material has not entered the food or
animal feed chain.

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