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6-Regulation: South Dakota (USA) GE wheat regulation bill fails

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                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Wheat regulation bill fails
SOURCE: Associated Press/, USA, by Joe Kafka
DATE:   Feb. 13, 2003

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Wheat regulation bill fails

PIERRE, S.D. - Legislative efforts fell short Thursday to make the state
Agriculture Department regulate genetically modified wheat.

Opponents of SB214 said the bill is premature because artificially
altered wheat is not yet available. They also said the federal government
likely will regulate genetically modified wheat and that if states do it,
too, it would create a hodgepodge of rules.

The Senate Agriculture Committee killed the bill 5-4.

Sen. John Koskan, R-Wood, offered the measure. He said many countries
have announced they will not buy wheat that has been artificially changed
to make it resist bugs, diseases or drought. People there worry the wheat
may lead to health problems, he said.

"We can see what is possibly going to happen," he said. "They have said,
'No,' and my question is, what part of no don't we understand?"

Genetically modified wheat is being developed at South Dakota State
University, although it may be a few years before the research is
finished, Koskan said. Research also is under way in other states, he said.

"South Dakota is probably farthest along in development in the United
States," he added.

Genetically altered wheat could produce new chemicals and
pharmaceuticals, Koskan said. But it should be isolated from other kinds
of wheat, he said.

Controls are needed now so state officials are ready for the new types of
wheat, he said. Mixing genetically engineered wheat and natural wheat
varieties could hurt wheat prices by causing serious commotion in export
markets, Koskan said.

If prices fell even a nickel a bushel, it would cost South Dakota wheat
farmers $5.5 million a year, Koskan said.

"We are given this chance to be in front of an issue," he said.

Even if genetically altered wheat is proved safe, some nations will still
balk at buying it because of strong dislike and distrust of genetic
tinkering, said Mike Assman of Mission, who is in the farm implement and
cattle businesses.

"Perception is reality when you're marketing something," Assman said.

Rick Vallery, executive director of South Dakota Wheat, urged legislators
to kill SB214. Genetically altered wheat holds the promise of new crops
for the state's farmers and could create new markets, he said.

"We are on the edge of tremendous opportunity in the wheat industry,"
Vallery said.

While some countries are worried about the new type of wheat, others say
they are interested if the U.S. Agriculture Department decides it is
safe, he said.

Vallery said genetically modified wheat will not be released until three
federal agencies approve.

Kathy Zander, executive director of the state Agri-Business Association,
said genetically modified corn and soybeans are widely planted in South
Dakota. She noted that legislation to regulate genetically altered wheat
recently was killed in North Dakota.

"Biotech crops are safe," she said. "Base your decision on science, not

Although he did not take sides on SB214, state Agriculture Secretary
Larry Gabriel said genetically altered wheat will become a reality
someday. Then those who grow both types of wheat will have to figure out
how to get along, he said.

"It is a market issue," Gabriel said.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Economist: GM Wheat 'Won't Make Dough'
SOURCE: AgWeb, USA, by Julianne Johnston
DATE:   Feb. 14, 2003

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Economist: GM Wheat 'Won't Make Dough'

Iowa State University ag economist Bob Wisner, in testimony to the
Montana legislature, said if genetically modified wheat is introduced
commercially into North Dakota, the price of spring wheat could drop by
about one-third.

Wisner says many European and Asian grain buyers will likely refuse to
buy any spring or durum wheat from states or regions that grow
genetically modified wheat. "Every available indicator of foreign
consumer demand points to a high risk of GM wheat rejection in export
markets," he said.

Monsanto has plans to introduce genetically modified wheat into Montana,
North Dakota and other states by 2005. Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" wheat
is genetically engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup.

"Concerns of foreign consumers center around food and environmental
safety questions, and perceived inadequacy of U.S. GM testing and
approval processes," Wisner said. "Consumer attitudes are the driving
force in markets, regardless of whether or not they are scientifically
valid. Wisner said that foreign government approval does not assure
consumer acceptance of GM wheat.

"In the past four years the US has lost over a billion dollars of corn
and soybean meal exports because of foreign GMO concerns," said Wisner.

According to Wisner, the risk of loss is higher with wheat since more of
it is exported, and more of it will be labeled. Wisner also noted that
other wheat-exporting countries have non-GM wheat supplies to sell buyers
who don't want US GM wheat.

Wisner testified in support of the Montana Wheat Protection and Promotion
Act, which would require Monsanto and other companies to show that
genetically modified wheat can be marketed overseas, and that GM wheat
and conventional wheat can be segregated before they can sell genetically
modified in Montana.