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Agribusiness takes most seats on USDA biotech panel

(Thursday, April 10, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Reuters 04/08/03: Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman on Tuesday gave agribusinesses and farm industry groups most of the seats on a federal advisory committee responsible for examining the future of biotech crops.

The 18 committee members will meet as USDA implements new restrictions on the planting of experimental pharmaceutical plants and reviews Monsanto's application for the commercialization of the first biotech wheat crop.

Monsanto, Cargill, DuPont , General Mills, Procter & Gamble, BASF Plant Science, CropTech Corp. and the North Mississippi Grain Co. were each given one seat.

The National Corn Growers, American Seed Trade and the National Association of Wheat Growers also have members on the committee.

"This committee will take a forward look at agriculture biotechnology and will serve as an important resource as USDA addresses emerging issues related to this field," Veneman said.

USDA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison would not elaborate on what biotech issues the committee will examine.

The remaining seven seats were given to academic experts, consumer groups and an international plant research center in Mexico. The Union of Concerned Scientists and the Center for Science in the Public Interest were each given a spot.