Suspends Development of GE Wheat
(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2004) Monsanto announced yesterday that the company will "de-prioritize" research into Roundup-Ready wheat, a product opposed by wheat markets around the world as well as by U.S. farmers. Opponents of genetically engineered wheat called Monsanto's announcement a step in the right direction, but noted that Monsanto continues to seek USDA approval for genetically engineered wheat and has not ruled out its introduction.
"We are pleased that Monsanto is pushing back its planned introduction of genetically engineered wheat, but it should be pushed back to never, not simply delayed," said U.S. PIRG food safety advocate Richard Caplan. "No one wants or needs this product, and the U.S. should not introduce unnecessary risk to human health, the environment, or our export markets by accepting its introduction."
Food safety advocates and a bipartisan coalition of Great Plains state legislators have been working for several years to block genetically engineered wheat. Economists have predicted significant economic harm from its commercialization, as key markets around the world have indicated a refusal to accept wheat imports from countries that authorize commercial plantings. Beyond Pesticides reported on economic research into GE in the November 20, 2003 edition of Daily News, GM Wheat to Adversely Affect U.S. Economy, Research Shows. Additional research from Great Britain further shows the adverse economic effects of GE.
Because the Food and Drug Administration does not require mandatory food safety assessments of genetically engineered crops, significant questions remain about its human health impacts. It is also likely, as with other crops engineered to withstand applications of herbicides, that chemical use on the crop would increase rather than decrease. The potential effects are immense, and include such consequences as development of insect resistance and superweeds, damage to public health and the environment through increased pesticide usage, and unfair treatments to farmers who sign contracts with biotechnology corporations when purchasing their genetically engineered seeds and crops.
"Monsanto should finish the job it has begun with today's announcement and announce that it is terminating its efforts to bring Roundup-Ready wheat to market," concluded U.S. PIRG's Caplan. "Today's announcement is just one step."
For more information, contact Richard Caplan, U.S. PIRG, 202-546-9707.
TAKE ACTION: Protect our land and food from GE. Buy organic and lobby your supermarket to label GE food. You can also contact EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt by email, phone: 202-564-4711, or fax: 202-501-1470, and urge the EPA to fully test the health and environmental impacts of GE.