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2-Plants: International resistance against GE wheat

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                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Farmers not sure they want genetically modified wheat
SOURCE: Star Tribune, USA, by Dan Gunderson (Minnesota Public Radio)
DATE:   May 4, 2003

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Farmers not sure they want genetically modified wheat

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Roundup Ready wheat is being developed at universities
in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota.

Mohammed Mergoum, a hard red spring wheat breeder at North Dakota State
University, is one of the researchers working with the genetically
modified (GM) wheat.

The GM wheat is grown in a separate greenhouse that's off limits to
visitors. The seeds will soon be planted in test plots at undisclosed
locations. These precautions are designed to prevent the genetically
modified plants from crossbreeding with other wheat varieties.

"We are very careful," Mergoum said. "We try to grow that wheat where
there is no wheat around it. We have to monitor that site at least two
years. That means we go there every month and pull out and destroy
anything that grows there."

Mergoum must have approval from the federal government to take seeds from
the greenhouse to a field site. And the seeds must be kept in a locked

Monsanto is seeking government approval to sell Roundup Ready wheat to
farmers. But farmers aren't sure they want it.

Tom Anderson grows wheat a few miles south of Moorhead. He would save
money by growing Roundup Ready wheat, because it would need fewer
expensive herbicides to control weeds.

But Anderson hopes Roundup Ready wheat stays off the market -- not
because Anderson opposes genetically modified wheat. Instead, he doesn't
want to lose important markets in Japan and Europe. Those governments say
they won't buy genetically modified wheat.

"Every one out of two bushels on my farm has to go somewhere besides the
United States," Anderson said. "It has to be exported in order to make
this thing work economically on the farm. And it's already on the edge of
not working."

Anderson said losing export markets would be a disaster for the United
States wheat industry.

"We cannot release this stuff until this is generally accepted worldwide,
or we're going to be shooting ourselves in the foot in the market,"
Anderson said. "I'm firmly 100 percent behind the research side of it,
but we can't release this until we have worldwide acceptance in the
marketplace. We just cannot afford to do that."

Monsanto, which owns Roundup Ready wheat, agrees.

Michael Doane, Monsanto's director of industrial affairs, said the
herbicide-resistant wheat must be deemed safe by government regulators,
and accepted by consumers, before it's released for general use.

"We don't want to sell seed to farmers that turns into grain that doesn't
have a market," Doane said. "What we think is good for growers is also
good for us. We've talked with a number of growers and reiterated our
commitment to work with them to establish markets for the grain prior to
introducing it. We think that's an important commitment, and one we'll honor."

Monsanto is taking a different approach with Roundup Ready Wheat than
with other GM crops it has released. The company is actively seeking
input from traditional wheat farmers and organic growers.

Monsanto said it wants to establish a protocol to keep genetically
modified wheat from mixing with traditional wheat varieties. But
researchers say if GM wheat is widely planted, it will inevitably
crossbreed with other wheat varieties. Crossbreeding is what frightens
organic wheat growers.

Janet Jacobson, the president of Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture
Society, said GM wheat could destroy the organic wheat industry.

"Organic consumers have made it pretty clear they don't want [genetically
modified organisms] in their food," Jacobson said. "So if genetically
modified wheat is released, contamination issues are inevitable. That
means we probably won't be able to market organic wheat."

The stakes are huge in North Dakota, which is among the top states in the
U.S. for wheat production. This year, North Dakota legislators considered
a bill to ban genetically modified wheat, but the legislation was defeated.

A group of farmers has petitioned U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Venneman
to consider the economic impact on farmers before approving Roundup Ready
wheat. Monsanto says it has no timeline for releasing the wheat. The
company insists it will not sell the herbicide-resistant seeds until the
crop is accepted in markets around the world.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Anti-GE wheat statement by Japanese groups and citizens
SOURCE: Coalition of farmers and consumers against GE food Japan
DATE:   May 2, 2003

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Dear friends,
Following is the first of our anti-GE wheat statement to be released to
farmers and agriculture organizations in US and Canada. You are welcome
to distribute and/or quote to whoever you think is appropriate provided
due reference is made to the contacts listed at the end.

Thank you
Katsumi Yamada
Director of Science
Japan Organic Agriculture Association


Dear farmers and traders of USA and Canada,

We, a consolidated consumers, organic farmers, food processors of Japan,
totalling 42 NGO's and 364,106 individuals as of May 1st , are strongly
against GE wheat which not only contain Roundup Ready resistant protein
but also antibiotics and virus protein, CaMV, all of them having
potential of harming human health and cause irreversible damage to the
whole nature which we human are part of.

We will not eat nor buy even a piece of GE wheat nor will allow one bit
to step on to the land of Japan. Please stop using GE wheat seeds and
stay conventional the variety that we have accepted and enjoyed.

If any news that GE wheat is commercially grown or intended to be grown
reached us, we will launch a massive rally either to give up wheat and
return to our staple rice for any purpose of grain use or to seek
elsewhere for proven safe edible wheat.

We sincerely wish you would take our voice into consideration and make
conscientious and agreeable choice if products are purported to us
consumers in Japan.

Coalition of farmers and consumers against GE food Japan
Phone/Fax: 81-476-94-0867

Japan Organic Agriculture Association
Phone: +81-33818-3078
Fax: +81-33818-3714

                                  PART III
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SOURCE: Reuters, by Richard Cowan, edited and sent by Agnet, Canada
DATE:   May 2, 2003

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WASHINGTON - South Korean wheat millers, major buyers of American grain,
were cited as delivering a blunt message this week that they would shun
U.S. wheat if genetically-modified varieties are approved by the Bush
administration. Hi Sang Lee, chairman of the Korea Flour Mills Industrial
Association (KOFMIA), who along with other officials is in the United
States to buy 208,800 tonnes of milling wheat, was cited as telling wheat
producers and government officials in Montana and North Dakota that use
of biotech wheat in America would ruin their trade relationship, adding,
"If GM (genetically modified wheat) comes, consumers will boycott all
wheat." The story says that currently, the United States supplies more
than half of South Korea's wheat import needs, with Australia getting
about 40 percent and Canada six percent. Last year, South Korea imported
2.37 million tonnes of milling wheat that is turned into noodles, bread,
soy sauce and other products. Il Woong Kim, president of Shinhan Flour
Mills Co. in Seoul, was cited as telling reporters that his company also
turns corn into corn syrup and that U.S. approval of biotech corn for
corn syrup caused South Korea to stop buying the grain from the United
States and switch to Chinese and Brazilian suppliers.

                                  PART IV
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TITLE:  Greenpeace prevented first genetically engineered wheat trial in
SOURCE: Greenpeace Germany
DATE:   April 2003

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Greenpeace prevented first genetically engineered wheat trial in Germany

Following a successful Greenpeace action against genetically engineered
wheat, the Swiss company Syngenta announced on April 11 not to sow any
genetically modified wheat in Germany this year. Two days before,
Greenpeace activists sowed organic wheat on the trial site in Friemar,
Thuringia, making it unusable as a wheat trial site.

The Robert-Koch-Institute had approved the trial without publicising
which gene had been inserted and how it was supposed to act, claiming it
as confidential business information. Greenpeace criticises the Competent
Authority's secrecy about the crucial details as preventing the public
from making a founded opposition to the trial and is going to prepare a
legal complaint.

The wheat was supposed to have 'increased protection' against Fusarium, a
fungus that produces mycotoxins damaging humans and animals. However,
Fusarium is a problem created by industrial agriculture itself: short-
stem high-yield varieties, poor crop rotation, lack of plowing, dense
growing plants due to the input of nitrogen fertiliser - they all create
an ideal climate for the damaging fungus. Organic farming has
significantly less problems with Fusarium.

In addition, there are conventional wheat strains from warmer climates
which have a much stronger resistance against Fusarium, but they have
been neglected in breeding.

Genetic engineering expert Henning Strodthoff: "When farmers and
consumers reject GE-wheat, companies like Syngenta have no chance.
Syngenta should realise that genetic engineering in food goes against the

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