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


North Dakota state rep hopes to introduce amendment on transgenic wheat

by Robert Schubert
CropChoice editor

(Monday, Jan. 27, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- North Dakota state Rep. Phil Mueller wants to introduce an amendment that he hopes will strengthen a bill creating a transgenic wheat board.

The amendment would give the board the "authority and responsibility to approve of any introduction of GMO wheat," Mueller said. "I don't know if the amendment will be successful in that there is a fair amount of opposition to such a concept on the [House Agriculture] Committee. "

Procedural matters prevented Mueller from introducing it at the Jan. 16 Committee session. When he'll next have an opportunity is up to the chairman.

The bill Mueller seeks to amend, HB 1026, would establish a governor-appointed and -chaired board to meet at least on a quarterly basis to study the scientific, legislative, regulatory, market acceptance (or rejection) and other news and issues related to genetically modified wheat. Monsanto wants to commercialize its Roundup Ready wheat, genetically engineered to resist glyphosate, by 2005. The company last year formally applied to federal officials in the United States and Canada for approval.

Mueller's amendment would give the transgenic wheat board the power to consider and grant (or decline) certificates of approval for the sale of any genetically engineered wheat in the state.

The company holding the patent(s) for the wheat would have to petition the board for a certificate. After receiving and reviewing the documents, the board would be required to hold a public hearing during which it would accept testimony and further documents regarding the application.

Petitioners' documents would have to include the following, taken directly from the amendment language:

"1. Identification of the transgenic wheat variety;
2. A description of each genetic modification made to obtain the particular variety;
3. A description of the techniques used in making each genetic modification;
4. Identification of the introduced or altered genetic material;
5. The effects of the genetic modification on the composition of the wheat variety that was modified;
6. Identification of specific substances that were expressed, removed, or altered in the modification process;
7. A description of the allergenicity and toxicity of the transgenic wheat variety;
8. Information regarding the availability of foreign markets for the transgenic wheat variety;
9. Information regarding the manner in which the transgenic wheat variety will be segregated from nontransgenic wheat varieties during production, harvest, storage, and transportation;
10. Information regarding handling protocols to ensure that the transgenic wheat variety does not enter foreign or domestic food supplies for which it has not been approved;
11. Information regarding handling protocols to ensure that the transgenic wheat variety does not enter foreign countries that have not approved it for use;
12. An assessment of the benefits and risks anticipated from the planting, harvest, and sale of the transgenic wheat variety;
13. A description of any pending state or federal level administrative reviews or legal actions regarding the transgenic wheat variety; and
14. Any other information deemed necessary by the board in order to complete the review process required by this Act."

A certificate would be valid for one year and anyone attempting to sell genetically engineered wheat without a certificate would be guilty of class B felony.

A petitioner that could not satisfy any or all of the requirements presumably would come away without a certificate.

That would depend on the views of the board members and how carefully they scrutinize a petition. Mueller's amendment would increase their number by adding another producer; he foresees another amendment that would require the inclusion of an organic wheat grower on the board.