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2-Plants: Monsanto, Novartis and AgrEvo flood Australia with GM plants



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TITLE:  Genetic food giants lodge Australia applications
SOURCE: Reuters, Sydney
DATE:   April 30, 1999

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Genetic food giants lodge Australia applications

Two major international groups have applied for approval for the sale in Australia and New Zealand of 10 genetically engineered crops. The applications, by U.S.-based Monsanto Co and Swiss-based Novartis AG , covering potatoes, corn and sugarbeets, have been made just before an April 30 deadline. Applications have been lodged with the government authority, the Australia New Zealand Food Authority, and are in addition to eight applications for engineered crops received by the authority since 1997. Biotechnology companies had been given nine months notice for modified foods to be assessed as safe by the food authority by April 30 if they were not to become illegal for sale from mid-May. By the end of last month only Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans and Ingard cottonseed oil had been approved.

Australian and New Zealand authorities have decided to give interim approval to modified foods, while their safety was assessed by ANZFA, if applications were lodged by April 30 and the foods had safety clearance from an overseas authority. The Monsanto and Novartis applications follow applications by Hoechst AG-owned AgrEvo for herbicide-resistant canola in March and a herbicide resistant corn two weeks ago. "Australia should wake up to the fact that gene technology and plant breeding is happening at a rapid rate...otherwise (it) would be left behind," Monsanto public affairs manager Nic Tydens told Reuters on Friday. Monsanto's seven applications covered four different crops, disease and insect resistant potatoes, insect and herbicide resistant corn, herbicide resistant cotton and herbicide resistant sugarbeet. Novartis applications are for two types of corn genetically modified for insect resistance. The corn is grown in Canada and the U.S., with one variety also grown in t!
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he European Union, and are approved for foods in the U.S. and elsewhere.



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