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
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
Perrett says Australian farmers may now be left behind on important
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 Jeremy Tager.
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
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
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
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