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2-Plants: Large Canada corn miller refuses to buy GM corn

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TITLE:  Large Canada corn miller turns down GM corn
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   May 21, 1999

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Large Canada corn miller turns down GM corn 

WINNIPEG, May 21 (Reuters) - CASCO Inc., a major Canadian corn
miller and a division of U.S.-based Corn Products International
Inc., said on Friday it would refuse to buy genetically modified
(GM) corn from farmers, for fear of losing European customers.
"For us to continue our relations with the European Community, we
cannot have any GM corn not approved by Europe," CASCO
spokeswoman Shelley Wybo said. The Ontario Corn Producers'
Association (OCPA) said this week it would segregate country
elevators that accept all corn from those that take only non-GM
corn, in accordance with requests by CASCO and another corn
buyer, NACAN.

Several U.S. companies including Cargill Inc., the world's
largest grain merchant, said last month they would avoid buying
corn varieties for processing that have not yet been approved in
Europe. European countries, fearful of ill effects to human
health, has resisted buying many genetically modified products
from North America even though the Canadian and United States
governments have approved them for human consumption. "No one
really wants to cut out any customers," Wybo said. CASCO, which
runs three Ontario milling plants and buys corn for a distillery,
purchases about one-third of Ontario's corn output -- much of it
for use in food products that are sold to Europe.

OCPA figures show farmers in Ontario, a major corn-producing
province, produced a corn crop of 238.3 million bushels in the
1998/99 season. This year's crop is expected to total 205.8
million bushels. Only about 2 percent of corn grown in the
province is from GM varieties. "It's very small, yet it's big
enough for CASCO to be concerned," OCPA director Larry Cowan
said. Although GM foods have produced a large and often raucous
debate in Europe, they have only recently started gaining public
attention in North America. The issue gained prominence earlier
this week when U.S. scientists said pollen from corn genetically
engineered to reduce pests killed monarch caterpillars in
laboratory tests.

Decatur, Illinois-based processors Archer Daniels Midland Co. and
A.E. Staley and Co., a unit of British food conglomerate Tate and
Lyle Plc , previously said they would avoid seven GM corn
varieties awaiting approval in the EU. Wybo said CASCO had a list
of about 20 varieties of GM corn that it would not accept. The
corn producers' Cowan said, "CASCO is such a large user of
Ontario corn, we will service whatever our customers require."
The statement said the small amount of GM corn grown in Ontario
would help to ensure that non-GM corn would not be mixed with GM
corn through pollination. Ontario's crop year runs from September
1 to August 1.


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