GENET archive


2-Plants: New study on RR wheat economics

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  New Study Says Costs of Roundup Ready Wheat Are Greater Than
        Benefits Industry Could Lose Up To $272 Million
SOURCE: Western Organization of Resource Councils, USA
DATE:   30 Aug 2005

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New Study Says Costs of Roundup Ready Wheat Are Greater Than Benefits
Industry Could Lose Up To $272 Million

FARGO, N.D. - Introduction of genetically modified wheat would lower
income for wheat growers and the wheat industry, according to a report
released today.

Published by WORC (Western Organization of Resource Councils), Harvest at
Risk - Impacts of Roundup Ready Wheat in the Northern Great Plains
examines the likely consequences of Roundup Ready wheat adoption and
projects economic impacts on wheat growers and the wheat industry.

"This is a technology for which there is really no compelling need," said
Dr. Charles Benbrook, author of the study. "Existing weed management
systems are stable, the price of weed management is not increasing, and
farmers are managing resistance to currently used herbicides."

If Roundup Ready wheat is introduced, increased seed and herbicide costs
and reduced wheat prices would outweigh the operating cost savings from
Roundup Ready wheat's simplified weed management by as much as $37 per
acre, the report concludes. Farmers who do not plant Roundup Ready wheat
would also face increased costs and lower income, ranging from $5.60 to
$18 per acre.

"Overall, the wheat industry could lose $94 million to $272 million,"
Benbrook said.

Benbrook said the wheat industry needs an in-depth and independent study
of the factors and impacts of GM wheat so that the technology does not
reduce farm income in the long run.

"I don't see any advantage to the farmer in the introduction of Roundup
Ready wheat," said Todd Leake, a North Dakota wheat grower and
spokesperson for the Dakota Resource Council.

The report projects costs per bushel and per acre for farmers adopting
Roundup Ready wheat and for non-adopters under a best-case scenario and a
worst-case scenario. In either case, farmers would lose money from
introduction and use of Roundup Ready wheat.

The report finds mostly negative affects from nine factors affecting the
costs and benefits of growing Roundup Ready wheat: emergence of
resistance, gene flow, disease pressure and related problems, impacts on
seed plus herbicide expenditures, market rejection, dockage, yields,
grain quality, and wheat prices.

Harvest at Risk is the latest WORC report analyzing the probable effects
of commercial introduction of Roundup Ready, genetically modified wheat.
An earlier report by WORC found that introduction of genetically modified
wheat in the U.S. risks the loss of one-fourth to one-half of U.S. hard
red spring and durum wheat export markets and up to a one-third drop in price.

WORC commissioned the study to answer questions about gene flow and
contamination, weed resistance, disease problems and cost and returns,
said Dena Hoff, WORC Chair, farmer, and member of the Northern Plains
Resource Council.

"There are other unanswered questions about the impacts on soil and water
and human and animal health that should be studied," Hoff said. "We're
going to have to work together so that we don't put our harvest at risk."

Monsanto indefinitely postponed development of Roundup Ready wheat in May

Dr. Benbrook runs Benbrook Consultant Services, based in Sandpoint,
Idaho. He has a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of
Wisconsin-Madison and an undergraduate degree from Harvard University. He
has served on the President's Council on Environmental Quality, in staff
positions in Congress, and as Executive Director of the National Academy
of Science Board on Agriculture.

WORC is a regional network representing farmers and ranchers in Colorado,
Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The
Dakota Resource Council and Northern Plains Resource Council are members
of WORC.

Harvest at Risk and related material are available here.

Western Organization of Resource Councils
2401 Montana Avenue, #301
Billings, Montana 59101
406.252.9672 ·

CONTACT: Dr. Charles Benbrook, 701-371-1564, Tuesday only;
Dena Hoff, 406-687-3645; Todd Leake, 701-594-4275;
or Kevin Dowling, WORC staff, 406-252-9672

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

TITLE:  Concerns continue over Monsanto's biotech wheat
SOURCE: Reuters, by Carey Gillam
DATE:   30 Aug 2005

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Concerns continue over Monsanto's biotech wheat

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Aug 30 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co.'s genetically modified
wheat program could cost U.S. wheat farmers more than $100 million in
lost income if it is commercialized, according to a study released Tuesday.

The report, which was commissioned by the Western Organization for
Resource Councils (WORC), warned of costly consequences if Monsanto Co.
revives its controversial technology to genetically alter types of spring

St. Louis-based Monsanto said in May 2004 that opposition to the project
forced it to delay an introduction indefinitely. And in March of this
year, the company reiterated that it did had no near-term revival plans
for Roundup Ready wheat, which is genetically altered to make the wheat
resistant to treatments of the Roundup weedkiller.

But debate within the industry has continued to fester and earlier this
month National Association of Wheat Growers president Sherman Reece
further spurred discussion by saying it "was time to move forward" with
biotech wheat.

The WORC report issued Tuesday takes the opposite approach, warning that
moving forward would prove costly to wheat farmers, who are already doing
a good job managing weeds and garnering profits.

Weed resistance, disease resistance and crop rotation problems are likely
if Roundup Ready wheat is adopted, according to the analysis by Idaho
agricultural consultant Charles Benbrook.

His analysis found that farmers would have to spend three times more
money on wheat seed and apply up to a pound an acre more herbicide if
they elected to use Monsanto's Roundup Ready wheat. He projects that
across about 13 million acres of U.S. hard red spring wheat acreage,
losses would run between $7.23 and $20.94 an acre, or $94 million to $272

"This is a technology for which there is no compelling need," said
Benbrook. "There are some substantial risks that go along with this

Monsanto officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but they
have billed Roundup Ready wheat as a way for farmers to grow wheat more
efficiently. The company's Roundup Ready soybeans have proven popular
with U.S. farmers and now dominate U.S. soybean acreage.

Biotech wheat has been hotly debated in the U.S. wheat industry for years
between those who say biotechnology could make wheat a more profitable
crop, and those who say foreign resistance to biotech tinkering would
kill exports.

"It is definitely still out there, something that is being talked about
with wheat organizations," said Todd Leake, a North Dakota farmer active
in WORC.

Monsanto already has FDA approval for the Roundup Ready wheat, but would
still need approval from the Agriculture Department and the U.S. EPA
before it could move forward.


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