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Reuters menu on genetic manipulation: May 22




Farm ministers flocking to St. Louis next week
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WASHINGTON, May 21 (Reuters) - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan
Glickman and farm ministers from around the globe will gather in St.
Louis early next week for an international meeting to discuss
biotechnology and farm trade.

The two-day "World Congress" is the inaugural undertaking of the
the World Agricultural Forum, a St. Louis-based group founded in 1997
to examine agricultural issues.

The group's primary sponsor is the Danforth Foundation, a
philanthropic group funded by the family that founded the St.
Louis-based Ralston Purina Co.

Leonard Guarraia, chairman of the forum's board of director,
described the Congress "as the first ever meeting of all of global
agriculture, from financing to the farm."

Glickman will speak to the group on Monday, squeezed in between
industry roundtable sessions on biotechnology and the task of feeding
the world in the 21st century.

Monsanto Co. President Hendrik Verfaillie and Cargill President
Ernie Micek will speak before Glickman on industry's role in creating
an abundant and healthy food supply.

Monsanto and Cargill are both corporate sponsors of the World
Agricultural Forum. The group plans to hold a World Congress every two
years in St. Louis. Regional meetings are also planned in Asia, Europe
and South America.

The focus on Tuesday will turn to international trade. A morning
session on building food markets will feature remarks by James Murphy,
assistant U.S. trade representative for agricultural affairs, on
preparations for world farm trade talks that begin in late November in
Seattle.
In the afternoon, agriculture ministers from Indonesia, Japan,
South Korea, Argentina, Ireland and Romania will discuss major trade
and production issues affecting their countries.

Other farm ministers from North America, South America, Africa,
Europe and Asia are also expected to take part.

However, Glickman is scheduled to return to Washington on Monday.


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Large Canada corn miller turns down GM corn
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WINNIPEG, May 21 (Reuters) - CASCO Inc., a major Canadian corn miller and
a division of U.S.-based Corn Products International Inc. , said on Friday
it would refuse to buy genetically modified (GM) corn from farmers, for
fear of losing European customers.

"For us to continue our relations with the European Community, we cannot
have any GM corn not approved by Europe," CASCO spokeswoman Shelley Wybo
said.

The Ontario Corn Producers' Association (OCPA) said this week it would
segregate country elevators that accept all corn from those that take only
non-GM corn, in accordance with requests by CASCO and another corn buyer,
NACAN.

Several U.S. companies including Cargill Inc., the world's largest grain
merchant, said last month they would avoid buying corn varieties for
processing that have not yet been approved in Europe.

European countries, fearful of ill effects to human health, has resisted
buying many genetically modified products from North America even though
the Canadian and United States governments have approved them for human
consumption.

"No one really wants to cut out any customers," Wybo said.

CASCO, which runs three Ontario milling plants and buys corn for a
distillery, purchases about one-third of Ontario's corn output -- much of
it for use in food products that are sold to Europe.

OCPA figures show farmers in Ontario, a major corn-producing province,
produced a corn crop of 238.3 million bushels in the 1998/99 season. This
year's crop is expected to total 205.8 million bushels.

Only about 2 percent of corn grown in the province is from GM varieties.

"It's very small, yet it's big enough for CASCO to be concerned," OCPA
director Larry Cowan said.

Although GM foods have produced a large and often raucous debate in
Europe, they have only recently started gaining public attention in North
America. The issue gained prominence earlier this week when U.S.
scientists said pollen from corn genetically engineered to reduce pests
killed monarch caterpillars in laboratory tests.

Decatur, Illinois-based processors Archer Daniels Midland Co. and A.E.
Staley and Co., a unit of British food conglomerate Tate and Lyle Plc ,
previously said they would avoid seven GM corn varieties awaiting approval
in the EU.

Wybo said CASCO had a list of about 20 varieties of GM corn that it would
not accept.

The corn producers' Cowan said, "CASCO is such a large user of Ontario
corn, we will service whatever our customers require."

The statement said the small amount of GM corn grown in Ontario would help
to ensure that non-GM corn would not be mixed with GM corn through
pollination.

Ontario's crop year runs from September 1 to August 1.


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Sugar growers attack European block on GMO beet
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LONDON, May 20 (Reuters) - World sugar growers said they were concerned by
consumer opposition, especially in Europe, to the development of
genetically modified sugar beet and cane.

"Much of this reaction was emotive and led by pressure groups and
sensational media coverage," the World Association of Beet and Cane
Growers said in a statement after meeting in Killarney, Ireland, on

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The Association said that genetic technology would considerably reduce the
use of pesticides in sugar production as well as increase crop yields and
quality.

"Adequate and stringent controls are already in place before these crops
can be commercially grown," it said.

Commercial production of GMO sugar beet is expected soon in the U.S.
following extensive trials over many years.
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