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TITLE:  New Survey Indicates Strong Grain Elevator Concern Over GE Wheat
SOURCE: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA, Press Release
        http://www.iatp.org
DATE:   Apr 8, 2003

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


New Survey Indicates Strong Grain Elevator Concern Over GE Wheat

Ninety-eight percent of North Dakota grain elevator operators responding
to a survey said they were either very concerned (82%) or somewhat
concerned (16%) about the proposed introduction of Monsanto's genetically
engineered (GE) "Roundup Ready" wheat. Additionally, 78% of the operators
supported an expanded public review of GE wheat compared to what the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has previously required
for approval of GE crops, the survey found.

The Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy sent the
survey to 317 North Dakota grain elevators. Fifty-two elevators
responded. The survey targeted North Dakota because it is the number-one
state in Hard Red Spring Wheat production, and spring wheat is the first
GE wheat variety slated for commercial release. The Institute is
surveying elevators in other major wheat producing states, and will
release those results as they are compiled.

"The world wide consumer must have confidence with the credibility of the
U.S. farmer and government dealers, which will have no control should
Monsanto be in control of wheat releases," said one elevator operator.
"Where is the demand for Roundup Ready wheat? Not one consumer group
wants it!"

"Release [of genetically engineered wheat] before customer acceptance
could be death to the US spring wheat market," said another North Dakota
elevator operator. "It's impossible to have a segregation system with
zero tolerance."

"This survey reflects serious concern among North Dakota wheat elevator
operators about the potential adverse economic impacts of GE wheat," said
Dennis Olson, Senior Associate at the Institute. "It also shows strong
support for a more comprehensive public review of GE wheat introduction
than USDA has previously required for other crops."

In other survey results, the elevators ranked loss of export markets as
their greatest concern related to GE wheat commercialization. This was
followed by the feasibility of creating a workable segregation system;
consumer rejection in importing countries; liability risks to their
businesses; and consumer rejection in the U.S. All elevators said their
customers were concerned about GE wheat deregulation, with 77 percent
characterizing their customers' concern over GE wheat to be either very
high (54%) or high (23%). The complete survey - with graphics - can be
viewed at: www.iatp.org.

Monsanto petitioned USDA's Animal Health & Inspection Service for
approval of its GE wheat variety on December 19, 2002. Based on USDA's
reviews of previous GE crops, Monsanto's petition could be legally
approved by the 2004 spring planting season. Major wheat importing
countries prohibit or require labeling of GE crops. Some have said that
they will not buy any U.S. wheat if GE wheat is approved, because there
is currently no segregation system in place to prevent genetic
contamination of conventional wheat. Monsanto's GE wheat petition has
sparked an intense debate within the wheat industry over the wisdom of
commercializing GE wheat because of the potential loss of export markets,
liability risks, anti-trust implications and other issues.

In February, wheat growers filed a petition with USDA arguing that the
agency is legally required to conduct a comprehensive Environmental
Impact Statement (EIS) prior to approving Monsanto's GE wheat petition.
An EIS would require a thorough analysis of the socio-economic impacts of
GE wheat introduction, and more time for public comment. "Those wanting a
more comprehensive review of GE wheat will have to demand it of the USDA,
which has been reluctant to conduct such reviews with other GE crops,"
Olson said.

A recent economic study by Dr. Robert Wisner of Iowa State University
projected that the price of spring wheat could drop by about one-third if
a genetically engineered (GM) variety is introduced commercially in the
next two to six years. Wisner noted that other wheat-exporting countries
have ample non-GM wheat supplies for concerned buyers. Wisner's study can
be viewed at: www.worc.org. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade
Policy promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems
around the world through research and education, science and technology,
and advocacy.

 - END - 

Contacts:
R. Dennis Olson, Senior Associate, +1-612-870-3412
Ben Lilliston, Communications Coordinator, +1-301-270-4787
Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy