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2-Plants: U.S. wheat export group approves biotech policy

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

TITLE:  U.S. wheat export group approves biotech policy
SOURCE: Reuters, by Carey Gillam
DATE:   12 Jul 2004

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U.S. wheat export group approves biotech policy

KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - A U.S. wheat export group on Monday endorsed a
set of guidelines for biotechnology companies seeking industry support in
marketing genetically modified wheat, officials said.

U.S. Wheat Associates, an export marketing organization, voted
unanimously Monday at a board meeting in North Dakota to endorse the set
of principles developed by wheat industry groups and approved last week
by the National Association of Wheat Growers.

The Wheat Export Trade Education Committee, which helps analyze and
disseminate international trade information related to wheat exports,
approved the proposal on Sunday.

The guidelines follow the decision in May by biotech crop leader Monsanto
Co. to shelve commercial introduction of a biotech wheat variety
following years of protests by overseas buyers of U.S. wheat and grain
industry groups who feared the loss of export sales.

U.S. Wheat Associates spokeswoman Dawn Forsythe said that, while many
concerns remain, the U.S. Wheat board thought the new policy would help
ease the commercialization of a biotech wheat variety in what has so far
been a hostile market.

"They recognized that principles for commercialization provides a
rational approach to meet the needs of customers and U.S. wheat farmers,"
Forsythe said.

The guidelines would require the company releasing the technology to get
regulatory approval in the United States as well as in wheat export
markets that represent at least five percent of the normal export volume
of any of the affected markets.

The company must also identify buyers for the new transgenic wheat,
provide a trait detection test, and meet certain pricing requirements. It
should also make the trait available for adaptation into public wheat
varieties, according to the industry policy.

With Monsanto's plans on the shelf, Swiss chemicals company Syngenta is
now seen as the leading contender to commercialize what would be the
world's first biotech wheat.

Sygenta, which is not attending a series of wheat industry meetings in
North Dakota this week, said it was too early to discuss its timeline for
biotech wheat.

Syngenta spokeswoman Sarah Hull said the company must complete field
trials before it can determine a timeline.


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