GENET archive

[Index][Thread]

2-Plants: German GM wheat trials approved but site sabotaged



-----------------------
genet-news mailing list
-----------------------

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

TITLE:  German GM wheat trials approved but site sabotaged
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   Apr 11, 2003

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


German GM wheat trials approved but site sabotaged


HAMBURG - German authorities said this week they have approved an
application from Swiss agribusiness group Syngenta AG to start Germany's
first trials of genetically-modified (GM) wheat.

But on Tuesday some 25 Greenpeace activists sowed organic wheat seed on
the test site, aimed at ruining trials as it will be impossible to tell
the difference between GMO and conventional wheat, said Greenpeace
spokesman Henning Strodthoff.

A spokesman for Germany's state owned Robert Koch scientific institute,
responsible for approving the safety of GM crop trials in the country,
said this week approval for trials this year on the 400 metre site had
been given.

The country forbids commercial production of GM crops but permits
research plantings.

Syngenta had applied for permission for trail plantings of wheat
resistant to the fungus fusarium in the eastern state of Thuringia. About
75 square metres would actually have had GM seeds.

"It does seem that the test area may not be usable," said Peter Hefner, a
spokesman for Syngenta in Germany. "There is a time limit to plantings
because of the wheat's biology."

"The approval process is also extremely complex and we cannot simply
ignore it to react to this changed situation." He added: "We have gone
through the approval process and answered all objections about safety.
The application was approved but trials cannot go forward because an
apparent legal act has occurred."

"This raises questions about how we can undertake scientific research in
Germany. It appears undertaking such research in Germany will be problematic."

He said Syngenta is studying the legality of the protest and reserves its
right to take legal action.

Greenpeace's Strodthoff said the organisation did not regard its protest
as illegal.

"At the time of the planting this was just normal farmland and no
approval for GM trials had been given," he said.


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

TITLE:  INTERVIEW - Syngenta says GM wheat at least five years away
SOURCE: Reuters, by Ben Hirschler
DATE:   Apr 11, 2003

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


INTERVIEW - Syngenta says GM wheat at least five years away

LYON, France - Swiss crop giant Syngenta AG said this week it did not
expect to market genetically modified wheat for at least five years.

"That is the minimum - that's how long it would take to have something
that is seen to work in practice," Chairman Heinz Imhof told Reuters.

The idea of growing genetically modified (GM) wheat is highly
controversial because it is widely consumed directly by humans. Corn and
soybeans, both of which have GM versions already on the market, are used
mainly in animal feed.

Many U.S. and Canadian farmers have called for a moratorium on the
introduction of GM wheat amid fears of trans-crop contamination and
worries about finding a market for the grain. Millers and food companies
have also expressed deep reservations, fearing that consumers will reject it.

Imhof, whose company's GM wheat has been bred to be resistant to the
fungus fusarium, acknowledged it would be a long haul to prove the
technology and then win round farmers, processors and consumers,
initially in North America.

Monsanto Co, meanwhile, has already made its final submissions for
regulatory approval of its herbicide resistant GM wheat in the U.S. and
Canada.

After earlier rows over GM foods, which have left Europe a "no-go" area
for the technology, both companies have pledged to ensure widespread
market acceptance prior to launch.

"Our approach is not to push the technology, in fact quite the opposite.
We would like to make sure that first people perceive the need for a
particular gene," Imhof said during the Biovision life sciences
conference in Lyon.

"We are at the beginning of a long project... but I'm optimistic long
term. I think there is no doubt that common sense will prevail and people
will realise that biotechnologies are in fact very good technologies to
protect the environment and to produce healthier products."

Earlier this week, the British government approved a new field trial of
Syngenta 's GM wheat. The company is also planning similar trials in
Germany and France, but Imhof said the U.S. and Canada were the prime
focus of the research project.