GE Wheat Won't Make Dough, Warn Economists
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brandy Hinkle: 406-252-9672
Dr. Robert Wisner: Phone -- 515-294-7318
Billings- The price of spring wheat could drop by about one-third
if a genetically modified (GM) variety is introduced commercially
into Montana or North Dakota in the next two to six years, according
to an agricultural economist.
Dr. Robert Wisner, University Professor of Economics at Iowa State
University, testified to the Montana legislature last week. According
to Dr. Wisner, many European and Asian grain buyers will likely
refuse to buy any spring or durum wheat from states or regions that
grow genetically modified wheat.
"Every available indicator of foreign consumer demand points to
a high risk of GM wheat rejection in export markets," Dr. Wisner
Monsanto, a multinational biotechnology company, plans to introduce
genetically modified wheat into Montana, North Dakota and other
states by 2005. Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" wheat is genetically
engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup.
"Concerns of foreign consumers center around food and environmental
safety questions, and perceived inadequacy of U.S. GM testing and
approval processes," Dr. Wisner said. "Consumer attitudes are the
driving force in markets, regardless of whether or not they are
scientifically valid. Wisner said that foreign government approval
does not assure consumer acceptance of GM wheat.
"In the past four years the U.S. has lost over a billion dollars
of corn and soybean meal exports because of foreign GMO concerns,"
said Wisner. According to Wisner, the risk of loss is higher with
wheat since more of it is exported, and more of it will be labeled.
Wisner also noted that other wheat-exporting countries have non-GM
wheat supplies to sell buyers who don't want U.S. GM wheat.
Wisner testified in support of the Montana Wheat Protection and
Promotion Act, which would require Monsanto and other companies
to show that genetically modified wheat can be marketed overseas,
and that GM wheat and conventional wheat can be segregated before
they can sell genetically modified in Montana. He will testify to
the North Dakota legislature on Thursday in support of a similar
A summary of Dr. Wisner's report, which was submitted to state legislators,
is available at http://www.worc.org