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2-Plants: US farmers start to think about benefits and risks of GMO

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U.S. farm group says producers need to know GMO risks

SAN FRANCISCO, March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. farmers need to know that if 
they choose to plant genetically modified crops, they run the risk of not 
being able to market their product to foreign customers, a panel of grain 
buyers said Saturday. Delegates at the National Grain and Feed 
Association conference said in a climate where genetically modified crops 
face intense opposition from U.S. trading partners, especially in the 
European Union, farmers need to know more about the crops they are 
GMO crops have been the subject of intense debate in Europe, where the 
crops, which are genetically-modified to fight disease and improve the 
commodity in other ways, are viewed as a danger to public health. The 
United States, however, has approved many varieties of GMO crops made by 
companies including Monsanto, DeKalb and AgrEvo, and has sharply 
criticised theEuropean Union for dragging its feet in approving the GMO 
crops. The U.S. Agriculture Department has expressed frustration, saying 
the EU has not been basing its decisions on sound science, but instead on 
U.S. farmers have been quick to embrace GMO crops. Approximately 40 
percent of the 1999 U.S. corn crop is expected to be planted with 
genetically modified seed. But grain buyers at the conference expressed 
concern that farmers do not know that the crops they are growing face 
intense opposition, which puts the buyers in a bind when it comes time to 
try to sell the products abroad. One elevator operator said he has had 
foreign purchasers reject his product because he would not certify that 
none of the sale included GMO commodities. At this point, most grain 
buyers do not test the commodities they purchase to determine if they are 
GMO products, but if opposition intensifies, they may be forced to do 
just that, company officials said.
The delegates voted at their annual meeting to distribute information to 
farmers about the GMO issue in order to educate the producers about the 
potential marketability problems of the crops. A representative from the 
National Corn Growers Association said his group plans to create a web 
page that will list all of the types of GMO corn farmers can buy and 
which countries still forbid the importation of the products to help 
farmers in their planting decisions. Many representatives at the 
conference expressed concern that more and more U.S. producers will plant 
GMO crops while the backlog of GMO applications at the EU expands. Most 
said they expect the EU will not approve any GMO varieties in 1999. 

-| Hartmut Meyer
-| Co-ordinator
-| The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
-| Reinhaeuser Landstr. 51
-| D - 37083 Goettingen
-| Germany
-| phone: #49-551-7700027
-| fax  : #49-551-7701672
-| email:

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