E-mail this article to
yourself or a friend.
Enter address:


StarLink cum Quest

(April 27, 2001 --Cropchoice opinion) -- Monsanto has voluntarily recalled thousands of bags of its Quest canola seed, grown on 12 million acres in Canada last year, after the discovery of small amounts of an alternate version of the genetic trait that gives the plants resistance to the herbicide Roundup.

Problem is, Japan and the United States, who together accounted for C$1 billion in canola seed, oil and meal purchases last year, have not registered this version of Roundup Ready canola.

"Only" 500 tons of the seeds have made it through distribution and onto farms, according to Monsanto. Nonetheless, if the Quest licensees performing the recall fail to find all the seeds and farmers plant them, financial problems could sprout. Not only might foreign markets where the version is not registered balk, but also the plants' genetic makeup could end up, through cross pollination, in other canola varieties. This would magnify financial problems for farmers if they couldn't sell their contaminated canola crop.

This situation and the StarLink debacle, which the Bush administration might "solve" by allowing a tolerance for the unapproved transgenic corn, illustrate the near impossibility of segregating and tracking transgenic crops. Yet, knowing this, Monsanto is allowed to push forward with plans to commercialize its Roundup Ready wheat sometime between 2003 and 2005.