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2-Plants: U.S. growers like GE crops but hesitate to grow "pharma"crops



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

TITLE:  POLL - US farmers hesitant to grow "bio-pharm" crops
SOURCE: Reuters, by Christopher Doering
DATE:   Jan 23, 2003

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POLL - US farmers hesitant to grow "bio-pharm" crops

TAMPA, Fla - Nearly half of U.S. farmers surveyed said they were
undecided or opposed to growing biotech crops engineered to produce drugs
for ailments like diabetes, according to a Reuters poll released yesterday.

Questions were raised about so-called "bio-pharm" crops last month after
three U.S. biotech firms were fined by the federal government for
mishandling experimental crops in Hawaii and Nebraska.

Some U.S. food makers and environmental groups have demanded a ban on the
new crops until stricter federal controls are in place to prevent cross-
contamination of crops for human or animal food.

In a Reuters straw poll of 340 growers, conducted this week at the
American Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting, 13 percent said they
opposed planting pharmaceutical crops. Half the farmers surveyed said
they would consider planting the new kinds of crops, which are expected
to command premium prices.

Another 35 percent of growers said they needed more information about
health and safety issues before deciding whether to grow them.

"I don't oppose biotech crops, but (with) bio-pharm I just don't know
enough even though I read about them," said Sam DeNeal, an Illinois corn
and soybean grower at the meeting of the nation's largest farm group.

The survey was conducted with random personal interviews during the
American Farm Bureau meeting. The Reuters survey results do not attempt
to weight responses by state, size of farm or other criteria.

3 BIOTECH FIRMS FINED

In 2002, about 300 acres of U.S. crop land were planted with experimental
bio-pharm crops. The new crops developed by Dow Chemical Co (DOW.N) and
others are expected to soon be commercialized so drugmakers can use corn
plants to grow medicinal compounds more cheaply.

DeNeal, who said the U.S. Agriculture Department is doing enough to
prevent cross-contamination between pharmaceutical and traditional crops,
added that he might consider planting them once there is more information.

In response to a separate question, 60 percent of farmers surveyed said
the USDA should allow pharmaceutical crops to be grown near traditional
plantings if they are safe.

The future of bio-pharm crops was thrown in flux in December after three
companies were fined for not doing enough to keep their experimental
fields separate from other crops.

The USDA ordered ProdiGene Inc., a small biotech firm, to spend an
estimated $2.8 million to buy and destroy some 500,000 bushels of
soybeans accidentally contaminated with a small amount of an experimental
corn plant engineered to produce trypsin for diabetes. ProdiGene was also
fined $250,000.

Separately, the Environmental Protection Agency fined Pioneer Hi-Bred and
Dow AgroSciences for violating regulations to isolate experimental crops
and prevent pollen from blowing into other fields. Each paid a fine of
less than $10,000.

About 24 percent of U.S. farmers surveyed said those incidents made it
less likely that they would plant pharmaceutical crops. Ten percent said
they were more likely to plant bio-pharm crops because the fines showed
the government was enforcing its rules.

"BLOWN OUT OF PROPORTION"

Some farmers surveyed at the meeting sought to downplay the ProdiGene
contamination.

"(The ProdiGene case) was blown out of proportion," said Kenneth Boswell,
a member of the Aurora Cooperative elevator in Nebraska that held
ProdiGene's contaminated soybeans.

Boswell contends that plants engineered to produce specific proteins
could lower the costs to combat diseases such as diabetes, AIDS and
Alzheimer's.

"The potential good of the pharmaceutical crops outweigh the risks,"
Boswell said.

Still, he acknowledged the recent problems confronting ProdiGene could
make it difficult in the near-term to convince skeptics to embrace
pharmaceutical crops.

After initially saying that such crops should not be planted in "major
areas of crop production" for food and feed uses, the Biotechnology
Industry Organization reversed its position last month. The trade group
said bio-pharm crops should be planted throughout the nation, provided
that federal rules are strong enough to prevent cross-contamination with
traditional crops.

The move was a victory for Midwest states such as Illinois, Kansas and
Iowa, which see bio-pharm crops as an important way to boost farm income.


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

TITLE:  Big Increases Seen in '03 U.S. Bio-Corn, Soy Crops
SOURCE: Reuters, by Christopher Doering
        http://reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=healthNews&storyID=2092441
DATE:   Jan 22, 2003

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Big Increases Seen in '03 U.S. Bio-Corn, Soy Crops

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American farmers are poised to boost plantings of
biotech corn by nearly 10% this year amid growing US pressure on the
European Union to lift a ban on imports of genetically modified crops,
according to a Reuters survey released on Wednesday.

The straw poll of 340 growers, conducted at the American Farm Bureau
Federation's annual meeting, found US farmers want to plant more gene-
spliced corn despite opposition from large customers such as the EU and
Japan. Consumers in those countries have expressed concerns about long-
term health and environmental impacts.

US 2003 plantings for Roundup Ready corn will jump by 9.9% and Roundup
Ready soybeans by 8.4%, according to growers surveyed at the meeting of
the nation's largest farm group. Roundup Ready crops are engineered so
growers can use a single herbicide to kill weeds.

However, Bt corn plantings posted the only decline among the five major
biotech crops included on the survey, falling 3.8%. Bt crops contain a
gene that repels a destructive pest while the young plant is growing. Bt
corn acreage fluctuates with European corn borer infestations.

Gene-altered cotton plantings will also rise in 2003, according to the survey.

Roundup Ready cotton plantings will be up 4%, while Bt cotton will rise
by 5.2%, according to farmers polled at the meeting.

The Reuters survey was based on random, personal interviews at the
meeting, and does not weight responses by state, size or other criteria.
The results provide an early indication of whether farmers will plant
more or less genetically modified crops than the previous year.

TOTAL BIOTECH PLANTINGS RISE

In recent years, growth in some biotech plantings have begun to slow as
many US farmers have already adopted the new technology.

Overall, biotech plantings across all US crops will rise by 2.3%,
according to farmers surveyed in the Reuters poll. That marks a slowdown
from the rapid increases logged in the first years after the new crops
were introduced to US farmers in 1996.

According to US Agriculture Department data, 34% of corn in 2002 was
grown with biotech seeds, up from 26% a year earlier. Biotech soybeans
rose to 75% of the total US soybean crop in 2002, up from 68% in the
previous year.

Biotech cotton accounted for 71% of the crop in 2002, up 2% from 2001,
according to the USDA.

The US government has repeatedly endorsed the safety of biotech crops now
on the market. But despite American farmers' embrace of gene-spliced
crops, questions remain whether the world will be eager to buy them.

The discovery that 1,200 tons of US corn shipped to Japan last month may
have been contaminated with StarLink has rekindled Asian concern. In
2000, taco shells and other corn-based foods were recalled after
StarLink, a biotech corn variety approved only for animal feed, was
discovered in the US food supply.

EU ON THE HOT SEAT

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said this month Washington was
prepared to ask the World Trade Organization to pressure the EU to lift
its moratorium blocking imports of biotech foods.

"Our patience has worn thin," echoed Bob Stallman, president of the Farm
Bureau. "Until you take a case to the WTO, there isn't any other way to
solve this issue."

US farmers surveyed said the EU moratorium has cost them hundreds of
millions of dollars in sales.

"When it affects prices it affects your bottom line," said Kendell Culp,
an Indiana corn and soybean farmer. The EU needs to "get a better policy"
that is not dependent on consumers' unfounded worries, he added.

The European Union has banned the approval of gene-spliced crops since
1998, when France and other members demanded that there first be tougher
rules in place for testing and tracking biotech products.

Some US farmers contend such rules would be costly and unnecessary. The
Reuters poll found that 43% of farmers said they could not comply with
new rules requiring more record-keeping. However, some growers surveyed
said that kind of paperwork would add a few cents a bushel to their
production costs.

"It would be cost prohibitive, and there is no incentive (for farmers) to
do that," said Delmer Keiser, a Kansas corn, soybean and wheat farmer.

The survey also showed that 58% of farmers interviewed would plant
biotech wheat crops when they becomes available. More than half of those
who do not plan to grow biotech wheat said it is because they do not
reside in a wheat-growing part of the country.


                                  PART III
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Reuters biotech farm survey results detailed
SOURCE: Reuters, sent by checkbiotech/Syngenta
        http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=newsletter&
        topic_id=2&subtopic_id=9&doc_id=4558
DATE:   Jan 22, 2003

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Reuters biotech farm survey results detailed

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - American farmers will again boost plantings of
biotech crops during the coming year, with the largest increases seen in
Roundup Ready soybeans and corn, according to a Reuters poll of 340 farmers.

Farmers attending the American Farm Bureau Federation's national meeting
were asked to estimate their plans for planting genetically modified
crops in 2003.

The poll also gauged growers' views on the risks of agricultural
bioterrorism and the future of pharmaceutical crops in the United States.

Information was obtained through random personal interviews at the
American Farm Bureau Federation's national convention this week.

The meeting, which tends to attract larger and more sophisticated
farmers, was attended by more than 5,000 growers, spouses, agribusiness
executives and others.

The 2003 Reuters straw poll did not attempt to weight responses by state,
size of farm, or other criteria.

The following table details the survey results:

2003 U.S. PLANTING INTENTIONS - BIOTECH CROPS

Pct No. of
CROP (in acres)         2003    2002    Change  Responses
Roundup Ready Soybeans  92,859  85,657  8.4     180
Roundup Ready Corn      15,322  13,943  9.9     86 *
Roundup Ready Cotton    21,503  20,675  4.0     24 **
Bt Corn                 28,038  29,156  -3.8    107
Bt Cotton               8,450   8,030   5.2     12
Total of all biotech:   158,464 154,894 2.3     409 ***

(The 409 responses reflects fact that many farmers grow several crops)

The survey also collected the following data from U.S. farmers regarding
genetically modified crops:

Have you purchased your biotech seed for this year?
Yes: 47 pct No: 53 pct

Will you plant biotech wheat when it is available?
Yes: 58 pct No: 42 pct

If you do not plan to grow biotech wheat, is it because you are not
located in a wheat-growing area?
Yes: 54 pct No: 46 pct

Have you invested in special equipment/facilities to segregate biotech crops?
Yes: 19 pct No: 81 pct

Could you comply with rules being considered by the European Union that
would require farmers to keep detailed records on any GM crops sold in Europe?
Yes: 57 pct No: 43 pct

PHARMACEUTICAL CROPS:

Is the USDA doing enough to ensure proper handling of pharmaceutical crops?
Yes: 68 pct No: 32 pct

Should the government allow pharmaceutical crops to be grown near crops
used for food?
Yes: 60 pct No: 40 pct

Did the recent contamination by ProdiGene's pharmaceutical crop and
government fines for similar incidents in Hawaii make you more likely or
less likely to grow pharmaceutical crops?
More: 10 pct Less: 24 pct No change: 65 pct

Would you plant pharmaceutical crops in the future?
Yes: 51 pct No: 13 pct Undecided: 35 pct

BIOTERRORISM:

Have the U.S. government, farmers and the food industry done enough to
prevent possible bioterrorism attacks on the food chain?
Yes: 47 pct No: 53 pct

Have you taken steps to reduce the chance of an attack?
Yes: 39 pct No: 61 pct


NOTES:
* Excludes one farmer who will plant 2,500 acres of Roundup Ready corn in
2003 after not planting the crop a year ago.
** Excludes one farmer who will plant 1,500 acres of Roundup Ready cotton
after planting 50 acres a year ago.
*** Excludes one farmer who increased biotech plantings to 7,500 acres
from 4,000 acres in 2002.