GENET archive


2-Plants: Canada ends two GE crop research projects

----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------

TITLE:  A) Ottawa gives up on splicing genes into pasta ingredients
           Durum decision is partly due to consumer outcry
        B) Province ends research to keep sliced apples from turning 
SOURCE: A) The Toronto Star, by Peter Calami
           edited and sent by Agnet, Canada
        B) Canadian Online Explorer
DATE:   A) April 19, 2000
        B) April 24, 2000

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A) Ottawa gives up on splicing genes into pasta ingredients
   Durum decision is partly due to consumer outcry

OTTAWA -- The Canadian federal government has, according to this 
story, abandoned the idea of splicing foreign genes into durum wheat, 
the mainstay of pasta, partly because of a consumer backlash against 
genetically engineered foods. The story adds that the decision, which 
has not been formally announced, could turn out to be a major turning 
point in the continuing debate about the appropriate use of 
biotechnology and adds that both industry and government researches 
have been increasingly skittish about genetically engineered food.

A senior executive of BioteCanada, the main national industry lobby 
group, wouldn't comment yesterday on the implications of the durum 
decision but noted that other federal agriculture biotech research 
was still continuing. Federal agriculture officials were cited as 
acknowledging they have seriously considered a research program to 
introduce a herbicide-resistant gene into durum wheat, based on 
similar work that has already produced herbicide-resistant soybeans, 
corn and canola.

Brian Morrissey, who heads research at the agriculture department, 
was cited as saying that grain growers, brokers and distributors 
surveyed recently by the government advised against developing 
similar herbicide-resistant durum wheat and that some people in the 
grain sector expressed fears that herbicide-resistant durum could 
unleash a consumer backlash and risk trade barriers in Europe, where 
opposition to genetically engineered foods is high and mounting, 
adding, "If there were no market, there would be no sales."

As well, herbicide resistance is not seen as crucial on southern 
Saskatchewan farms where durum is mostly grown. Gordon Dorrell, in 
charge of agriculture's research stations in the Western Canada, was 
quoted as saying, "Farmers weren't prepared to pay anything extra for 
the seed."

The durum project would have paralleled an existing partnership 
between Agriculture Canada and Monsanto to develop a hard red spring 
wheat that is resistant to Round up. The genetically engineered wheat 
could be ready for sale to farmers by 2003, officials said. Morrissey 
was cited as telling members of the Commons agriculture committee 
last week that the government signed the deal with Monsanto in 1997 
when the world appeared to be embracing genetically engineered 
foodstuffs. adding, "But today, here and elsewhere, it's going in 
slow motion." 


B) Province ends research to keep sliced apples from turning brown

SUMMERLAND, B.C. (CP) -- The provincial government won't be 
participating in any more genetic research into how to keep sliced 
apples from turning brown. Organic fruit producers said in a news 
release Monday the government has decided to scrap the project at the 
Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre here. The release said Agriculture 
Minister Corky Evans was instrumental in ending the work aimed at 
genetically modifying apples so they wouldn't discolour when cut open.

"Corky has always understood that B.C. agriculture can best survive 
by being unique," three organic growers groups said the release. "In 
a time of one agricultural crisis after another and with farmers 
leaving the land in droves, organic farming is an expanding and 
viable way to make a living." Organic growers were worried 
genetically-engineered trees would cross-pollinate with natural ones, 
ruining their organic status. "There is no tolerance in the organic 
market for product affected by genetic engineering," the groups said. 
"The produce could not be sold as organic and the farm could become 

Organic tree fruit production in British Columbia has increased from 
16 hectares a decade ago to more than 400 today. Meanwhile, organic 
produce sales have increased 20 per cent a year. The organic growers 
are represented by several groups, including the Organic Fruit 
Producers Association of Cawston-Keremeos and the Similkameen-
Okanagan Organic Growers Association.


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