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Europe doesn't want GM wheat

(February 6, 2001 -- Cropchoice news) -- Europe sent more signals that it doesn't want and won't buy genetically engineered wheat. Monsanto plans to commercialize Roundup Ready wheat between 2003 and 2005.

"We will never be in the market for it," a Norwegian trader told Reuters.

Europe is a huge export market for U.S. wheat farmers. Western European countries represent a fifth of dark northern spring wheat exports. Japan, Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- also large markets for U.S. wheat -- have said they don't want genetically modified varieties. Foreign consumers could turn to alternative suppliers, namely Canada and Kazakhstan.

In response to these concerns, Monsanto and the wheat industry want to segregate transgenic Roundup Ready and conventional wheat.

"Monsanto is committed to working with the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates to develop a grain handling system that will reliably deliver what customers want," a spokesperson for the St. Louis-based company told Cropchoice last week.

Todd Leake, a North Dakota wheat farmer, is skeptical. Based on his conversations with farmers, elevator managers and executives at grain companies, he doubts that the industry can address the segregation technology and infrastructure requirements necessary to handle Roundup Ready wheat.

In addition to a segregation system, the wheat industry and Monsanto will attempt to persuade major export markets about the benefits of Roundup Ready wheat.

Source: Reuters