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3-Food: Corn processor A.E.Staley will not buy non-EU-approved GE corn from US

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TITLE:  A.E. Staley to avoid non-EU-approved modified corn
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   April 14, 1999


A.E. Staley to avoid non-EU-approved modified corn

DECATUR, Ill., April 14 (Reuters) - Corn processor A.E. Staley & Co., a unit of British food conglomerate Tate and Lyle Plc, said on Wednesday it would not buy some types of genetically modified (GM) corn until they are approved for shipment to Europe. "We've just reinforced what the seed suppliers are telling the farmers, backing up what's already on the label of the seed corn, which is basically that some varieties are to be placed in export channels," Pat Mohan, executive vice president of Staley, told Reuters. "We are accepting varieties of corn from seed stock that has been approved by the European community," Mohan said. Staley buys corn from farmers and processes it into a wide variety of products for both domestic use and exports. Mohan said the decision affects corn grown from Monsanto Co.'s new Roundup Ready seed and some varieties of bioengineered "Bt" corn not yet approved by authorities in the European Union.

GM crops have proliferated over the last three years in the United States, where 35 such crops have been approved for commercial use. The crops have had genes altered to fight insects like the European corn borer or to withstand herbicides like Roundup. But the European Union has approved only nine GM crops, the last in March 1998, amid consumer protests in Britain and other EU members led by Greenpeace. The protests have raised concerns about the health effects and environmental safety of GM products. Staley exports no corn to Europe but is a major shipper of corn gluten feed, a processing byproduct widely used in animal feeds. Technically, EU rules on GM approvals affect only raw materials like seed, not byproducts like oils or feeds, U.S. corn refining officials have said.

"I don't know the status of the approval process Monsanto's going through," Mohan said, saying that Staley's aim was to help its farmer suppliers make planting decisions for the coming season. "We're just trying to get the information in the hands of the farmers as early as possible so they can judge their options and make a decision," Mohan said. GM corn is already widely used in the United States for feed and processing. The National Corn Growers Association said it expects GM corn to be planted on 27 million acres or 35 percent of U.S. corn acreage this year, up from 28 percent last year. On April 12, Monsanto and several other biotech firms decided to scrap plans to carry out field trials of a GM corn variety in Austria, citing lack of local government support and critical public attitudes about GM foods. The GM variety had been approved for use in the European Union last year.


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