7-Business: U.S. Wheat Associates urge to delay commercialization of GM wheat
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TITLE: GRAIN TRADE ATTEMPTING TO SORT OUT (AND SOLVE) GM ISSUES
SOURCE: U. S. Wheat Associates, Wheat Letter
DATE: July 12, 2002
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U. S. Wheat Associates continues to urge biotech companies to delay
commercialization of GM wheat until there is customer acceptance as well as
regulatory approvals in U.S. wheat markets.
GRAIN TRADE ATTEMPTING TO SORT OUT (AND SOLVE) GM ISSUES
As Monsanto and Syngenta proceed down the path to commercialization of
genetically modified wheat, issues loom even larger for the international
grain trade, which is already reeling from liability issues caused by
presence of unaccepted varieties of genetically modified corn, soy, and
canola. Last year, U.S. Wheat Associates joined a prestigious roster of
organizations committed to maintaining efficient international trade.
The International Grain Trade Coalition, with members collectively
representing over a thousand trading companies around the world, is
focusing on the implementation of the Biosafety Protocol, an international
environmental treaty that will govern the transboundary movement of GMOs.
(The Protocol refers to "living modified organisms, or LMOs.) Among a
myriad of issues, the IGTC has initially focused on addressing proposals on
cargo documentation that will be difficult -- if not impossible -- for the
international bulk grain trade to fulfill.
IGTC is sorting out when documentation will be required, and what
documentation will suffice. One of the most vexing problems within that
issue is the one of threshold tolerances for GMOs. While the Biosafety
Protocol negotiators seem to basically recognize that a zero tolerance
threshold is not practical, there is no international agreement on
acceptable thresholds for the unintentional presence of GMOs that will be
found in grain shipments.
The problem is not inconsequential. As one of the members of IGTC explains,
"without international agreement on acceptable thresholds, the exporter
concerned with potentially massive yet undefined liability is placed in an
unmanageable situation." Carrying that to its logical conclusion, this
expert explained, there are three courses of action: "the exporter could
refuse to ship, the contractor will contractually shift liability to the
supplier, or the entire industry will act responsibly and secure
comprehensive international approval prior to any introduction of a genetic
event in commercial channels."
The IGTC invites and encourages other industry associations and companies
involved in international grain trade activities to join the coalition.
Interested groups can contact USW (reply to this message if you'd like) and
we will forward your inquiry to the IGTC.
The founding members of the IGTC include the Canadian Grains Council, the
North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA represents the private and
publicly owned companies and cooperatives that export practically all the
grain and oilseeds from the United States), the Grain and Feed Trade
Association (GAFTA represents the interests of members who trade in grains,
feedingstuffs, pulses and rice internationally, with over 800 members in 80
countries), and the Comite du Commerce des Cereals (COCERAL is the trade
association of the cereals, feedstuffs, and other industries in the
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