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TITLE:  Activists target biotech wheat in Manitoba protest
SOURCE: Reuters, by Roberta Rampton, additional reporting by Carey Gillam
DATE:   June 9, 2003

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Activists target biotech wheat in Manitoba protest

WINNIPEG, Manitoba - With banners flying, Greenpeace activists launched
the latest salvo against Monsanto Co.'s (MON.N) development of
genetically modified wheat with a protest at a government research farm
in Manitoba.

The incident heralded more actions to come, a biotech wheat opponent said.

"Resistance is solid," said Greenpeace spokesman Lindsay Keenan in an
interview with Reuters.

Five protesters were arrested during the four-hour incident Thursday at
the Morden, Manitoba facility in which Greenpeace activists padlocked
gates to the government research facility and unfurled signs from the roof.

The farm is growing one small plot of Monsanto's Roundup Ready wheat,
said Jim Bole, director of Agriculture Canada's cereal crop research in

"We do take it very seriously that these trials could cause harm to wheat
markets and therefore it is important that they be conducted in
accordance with regulatory protocols," Bole said.

The protest by Greenpeace, a leading environmental activist group, comes
as a range of consumer, farm and environmental groups are intensifying
efforts to beat back biotech wheat. They are spurred by fears that
Monsanto may receive regulatory approval in the United States and Canada
within the next year.

The reasons for the opposition are varied. Some fear consumer opposition
to biotech wheat will spoil sales of North American wheat, while other
opponents fear environmental damage.

"There is a lot of buzz about biotech wheat now. The debate is heating
up," said Larry Bohlen, director of health and environmental programs for
Friends of the Earth.

Monsanto is in the final stages of the approval process for what would be
the world's first genetically modified wheat. The herbicide-resistant
strain, called Roundup Ready, is designed to help farmers kill weeds more
efficiently with Monsanto's Roundup weed-killer products.

Along with Greenpeace, which is pursuing both consumer-and investor-
oriented strategies against Monsanto, Friends of the Earth, the Sierra
Club and others are mounting anti-biotech wheat campaigns this year.

The Sierra Club, which has more than 750,000 members, plans to present an
"Amber Waves of Grain" protest petition later this month at an
international agricultural conference in Sacramento hosted by U.S.
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman.

The petition has the support of more than 40 different U.S.
organizations, said Sierra Club spokesman Jim Diamond.

Friends of the Earth is also planning a biotech wheat protest at the same
meeting and is drafting a "biotech wheat critique," according to Bohlen.

Some say they do not want Monsanto, a leading agrichemical company,
essentially "owning" the rights to a crop that is seen as a fundamental
nutrition source for populations around the globe.

"Wheat is the staff of life," said Diamond. "We don't want Monsanto ...
to appropriate the fruit of 100 centuries of agriculture."

Monsanto says the majority of U.S. farmers want its biotech wheat and it
has promised to not release the wheat before achieving market acceptance.
The product will be shown safe through the regulatory approval process,
the company says.

"The commitments we have in place are aimed at addressing the concerns
people have," said Monsanto spokeswoman Trish Jordan.


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