GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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Industry Says GMOs Cannot Be Stopped



    RANCHO MIRAGE, Ca. March 20 (Reuter) - Much of the debate over the use of
gene-altered soybeans could have been avoided if more attention had been
given to consumer concerns on the issue, a panel of oilseed industry souces
said Thursday. 

    "I would give the genetic development industry low marks for their
interaction with the consumer," Harry True, senior commodity manager for
Frito-Lay, Inc. of Plano, Texas, said at a meeting of the National Institute
of Oilseed Products. 

    Frito-Lay, Inc., which is owned by PepsiCo Inc. <PEP.N>, manufactures
potato and corn chips and is a large user of vegetable oils. 

    Little attention was given to consumer reaction during the development of
gene-altered soybeans, said Sheldon Hauck, President of the National Oilseed
Processors Association in Washington D.C. 

    One such soybean is a strain developed by Monsanto Co. 

<MTC.N>, that is a herbicide-resistant. 

    But neglect of consumer opinion has resulted in heated debate over the
safety of the crops, Hauck said. 

    "The product got marketed before everybody was ready for it," he said.
    Hauck declared the debate over the safety of gene-altered crops in the
U.S. largely a "dead issue," but said that as the crops become more
prevalent, everyone in the food processing chain has a responsibility to
educate their customers. 

    Although the gene-altered debate has not resonated with U.S. 

consumers the way it has in Europe, concern over introducing gene-altered
crops into the food chain does exist in the U.S., some panelists said. 

    "We have, in fact, fielded quite a few telephone calls and inquiries from
consumers (about the use of gene-altered crops)," 

True said. 

    But the growing use of biotechnology to improve crop performance
throughout the world will soon make it nearly impossible to avoid foods made
from gene-altered crops, the panelists told the meeting. 

    "Every world area's governments are supporting biotech agricultural
research," said Molly Cline, director of food industry relations for Monsanto
in St. Louis, Mo. 

    Monsanto developed the gene technology used to grow the
herbicide-resistant Round-Up Ready soybeans.
    U.S. farmers are already sold on the benefits of using gene-altered crops
and are expected to plant up to 10 million acres with Monsanto's
herbicide-resistant Round-Up Ready soybeans in 1997, Cline said. 

    In addition, Round-Up Ready canola is being marketed in Canada, and there
are many pest-resistant strains of corn available to U.S. farmers, the
panelists said. 

    "You can't stop it (gene-altered technology)," said Arnold F. Mergell,
chairman of the German Oilseed Crushers Association. 

"The key is finding a way to deal with it." 

    Anna Driver 312-408-8720   

22:55 03-20-97