CANBERRA, Australia, May 12, 2004 (ENS):
Two days after announcing a moratorium on its genetically
engineered wheat, biotechnology company Monsanto has
indicated that it will close its program to introduce
genetically modified canola to Australia, according
to the Grains Council of Australia.
Grains Council President Keith Perrett says moratoriums
on commercial biotech crops in most states are at the
root of Monsanto's decision to pull out of genetically
modified canola. The canola plant, also known as rape,
is valuable for its oily seeds.
"Discussions I've had with Monsanto as recently
as today, have indicated to me that they will be pulling
out their canola program in Australia," he told
the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Perrett says Australian farmers may now be left behind
on important biotechnology innovations.
Monsanto’s decision to terminate its genetically
engineered (GE) canola breeding program in Australia
is good news for consumers, farmers and the environment,
Greenpeace Australia said today.
Genetically engineered canola has been the heart of
Monsanto’s program in Australia.
"The death of that program is not only a huge
victory for consumers, it’s a very clear message
to Bayer’s GE canola program in Australia that
this is not a technology that is being embraced by markets
or consumers," said Greenpeace Australia GE campaigner
This decision comes just two days after Monsanto announced
it is deferring all further efforts to introduce Roundup
Ready wheat, a genetically modified variety that tolerates
the company's herbicide Roundup.
Monsanto said it is "realigning research and development
investments to accelerate the development of new and
improved traits in corn, cotton, and oilseeds."
While the Australian government has been supportive
of genetically modified crops, the state governments
have not been so welcoming. On March 25, the state of
Victoria decided to implement a four-year moratorium
on the planting of biotech canola although the Commonwealth
government had already approved such plantings as safe.
Monsanto and others in private industry have invested
millions of dollars in collaborative canola research
with the Victorian government, the company said.
"This decision ignores the recommendations and
process set out in the study commissioned by the Victorian
government," said Terry Bunn, managing director
of Monsanto Australia at the time. "Monsanto is
disappointed with the government's decision to deny
Victorian canola farmers the chance to use a proven
and successful technology."
But Tager said the rejection is part of a pattern.
“Monsanto is the world’s largest agritech
company. In the last few months they have abandoned
GE crops in the UK, abandoned research into GE pharmaceutical
crops, abandoned GE wheat and now abandoned GE canola
in Australia. The writing is on the wall – no
one wants GE,” he said.
“This is the beginning of the end of genetically
engineered crops,” said Ronnie Cummins, executive
director of the U.S. based Organic Consumers Association,
which has been campaigning against genetically modified
crops. “This is a bitter defeat for Monsanto and
a well deserved victory for family farmers and consumers.”
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2004. All Rights