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6-Regulation: Canadian government moves forward on GE wheat

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

TITLE:  Feds moving forward on GM Wheat
SOURCE: Saskatoon Broadcasting Corporation, Canada
DATE:   Apr 23, 2003

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 Feds moving forward on GM Wheat

SASKATOON - Opponents of genetically modified (GM) wheat may have a
difficult time convincing Ottawa to impose a moratorium, even though many prairie
farmers and the Canadian Wheat Board don't want it Canada until markets warrant
the need. The federal government says the marketability of a product should
not be a factor when considering registering new crops. The government even
changed the rules to make sure science prevails in the debate over genetically
modified products. Grant Watson will ultimately decide which new crops will
be approved for use by farmers. He has a lot of help from other scientists and
researchers who study things like yields, disease resistance and, in the
case of wheat, baking quality. Watson says market acceptance has never been a
major consideration, even though it was on the books. "It's a factor that's
used from the standpoint of kernal visual distinguishability (KVD) when they
look at a variety that might yield well but may not be milling quality so they
use that factor," he says. Graham Scoles is a research scientist at the
University of Saskatchewan who has been a member of the committee that reviews all
requests for registration of new wheat varieties. He has a different view of
the importance of market acceptance. "I don't think we saw it strictly in
terms of the KVD issue," says Scoles. "It was more this was put in there because
it seemed like the right thing to do." That may be why Canadian Food
Inspection Agency (CFIA) moved to clarify its position. Watson says two years ago it
told committee members that market acceptance was not to be considered. "The
industry has to look at it from their perspective and decide which products
should be commercialized and which ones shouldn't be," says Watson, "I don't
think that's the government's role." Watson says it is unlikely CFIA will
change its position on the issue despite growing pressure from farmers and the
Canadian Wheat Board.


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