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2-Plants: EU cancels order for New Zealand's GE canola - and goes for GE-free grains from Australia

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TITLE:  EU cancels order for GM canola
SOURCE: The Evening Post, New Zealand
DATE:   April 14, 1999

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EU cancels order for GM canola

The European Union has canned an order for genetically modified, pesticide-resistant canola, which American food giant Monsanto is proposing to grow in New Zealand. Monsanto plans to seek approval for New Zealand's first commercial planting of a genetically modified crop, Roundup Ready canola seed. The modification allows the crop to survive spraying with the pesticide Roundup, which will kill weeds around it. Monsanto wants approval for Canterbury and Southland farmers to produce the seed for Canadian seed company Zeneca, which it says is struggling to meet worldwide demand.

However, Green Party agriculture spokesman Ian Ewen-Street said the EU had cancelled this year's order, worth tens of millions of dollars, and switched to Australia because Australia could guarantee its canola crop was not genetically modified. "The Canadians could not provide that guarantee and lost the order." He said the cancelled order would have a huge impact on Canada because Europe took 40 percent of all canola produced. Other countries have also refused to take it, including Japan, Thailand and Australia, he said. Canola has a variety of uses such as a cooking oil, an ingredient in baked products and even as a diesel substitute. Mr Ewen-Street said the Monsanto application included raising the acceptable Roundup pesticide residue level within the crop by 200 times.

Monsanto New Zealand business manager Murray Willocks was aware of the European decision, but said it was making the application on behalf of the seed company, which still believed there was enough demand. He confirmed one of its applications included raising the acceptable pesticide residue level from 0.1 part per million to 20 parts per million. That was because, in the past, Roundup was sprayed on the ground before the crop was planted in order to contain weeds. Now it would be sprayed directly on to the crop. Monsanto also wants to commercially grow a genetically modified pesticide-resistant crop of brassica, a vegetable group which includes cabbage, swede and turnips. Mr Willocks said farmers used the crop as greenfeed for stock. Before applications are formally made to the Environmental Risk Management Authority and the New Zealand and Australian Food Authority, the company is assessing the risk of cross-pollination with other plants, whether pesticide-resistant canola c!
ould become a problem weed for farmers, and the economic risk or benefits. It hopes to know the results by early next month. 


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