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3-Food: Monsanto developing GE food with consumer benefits

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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Nutrition 21 (90003), p.157S-160S
        by Maureen Mackey, edited and sent by Agnet, Canada
DATE:   June 2002

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Maureen Mackey, PhD, FACN Monsanto Company, St Louis, Missouri


Crop biotechnology is being used in two major ways to enhance human 
nutrition: to improve global food security by making more food available, 
especially locally grown and familiar foods in the developing world, and by 
enhancing the nutritional composition of foods that would interest both the 
developed and developing worlds. Since the first commercialized products of 
biotechnology are major commodity crops grown primarily in the US, Canada 
and Argentina (soybeans, corn, canola and cotton), there is concern about 
whether and when crop biotechnology will help the developing world. There 
are, however, several on-going projects in Africa, SE Asia and Latin 
America where crop biotechnology is being used to enhance locally grown 
crops. The expectation is that genetically improved crops, e.g., those able 
to resist local pests, will allow even small-scale farmers to grow more 
crops using fewer inputs and in an environmentally sustainable manner. 
Furthermore, there are numerous on-going projects to enhance the 
nutritional or health value of foods via transgene technology. A few of 
these projects are described in this article.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, USA, by Jon Van, edited and sent by Agnet, Canada
DATE:   July 22, 2002

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Taking omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent heart disease, but getting a 
daily dose of the stuff can, according to this story, be difficult unless 
you love eating fish. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are a good source of 
omega-3, and fish oil supplements are available for people who don't eat 
much fish, but they tend to leave a person with a fishy aftertaste.

That may not be a huge problem, but it's one the folks at St. Louis-based 
Monsanto Co. are working to solve. Monsanto, which two years ago merged 
with Pharmacia Corp., is in the process of being spun off into an 
independent company again, one that will focus on biotech and agricultural 
products. Pharmacia's proposed takeover by Pfizer Inc. should speed that 
separation. The story says that Monsanto's main products are the herbicide 
Roundup and genetically altered seeds that grow into plants that are 
unaffected when the herbicide kills everything around them. The firm also 
sells genetically altered plants that poison bugs that feed on the plants.

Monsanto scientists are testing genetically altered plants that will 
improve the nutritional value of food products, which is where the fish oil 
comes in. Hugh Grant, Monsanto's chief operating officer, was quoted as 
saying, "The fish don't produce omega-3 themselves. They get it from eating 
algae. We've taken the algae gene that produces omega-3 and put it into 
canola oil." The story says that the goal is to produce an edible oil high 
in omega-3, so that people could get the heart benefits from salad oil or 
other foods without any fishy taste.

Another Monsanto project involves genetically building certain amino acids 
into soybeans and corn so that the plants will be ideal chicken or hog 
feed. "Now they add chemicals to animal feed to provide the needed amino 
acids," said Grant, "but it would be more effective and less expensive to 
put those materials right into the crop." Grant said a recent federal 
survey found that 75 percent of soybeans and 70 percent of cotton are 
genetically manipulated, as is about one-third of corn.

"That's up from zero in 1996, which is a very fast acceptance," Grant said. 
Farmers in Asia and South America also have begun using genetically altered 
seeds, Grant said, and scientists in Europe have largely grown to accept 
them. He conceded that gaining consumer acceptance among Europeans may be a 
long, difficult process. Mad cow disease played a big role in building 
European opposition to genetic engineering because it undermined public 
confidence in government pronouncements, Grant said.


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