WASHINGTON, D.C., March 15, 2004 -- CropChoice news -- Reuters, 03/15/04:
Results of a new U.S. survey of global attitudes toward
genetically modified wheat indicate widespread opposition
or uncertainty about imports if the product were to
be approved for commercial sales.
Some major grain-importing countries would refuse to
buy genetically modified wheat if it became commercially
available, or are uncertain of their reaction, according
to the survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The survey results, obtained by Reuters, also found
that key countries such as Japan and South Korea might
even refuse non-biotech wheat from a country if it approved
just one variety of biotech wheat.
St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. has petitioned the U.S.
Department of Agriculture to approve the world's first
genetically modified wheat. "Roundup Ready"
wheat would be modified to tolerate applications of
Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller.
USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service offices around
the world provided answers to a series of questions
about host countries' stances toward biotech wheat.
The survey, requested by the U.S. wheat industry, mostly
backed up widely held views that European and Asian
countries have serious concerns about biotech wheat,
including fears about its impact on the environment
and human health.
The survey covered the one-year period ending November,
Asked whether host countries would buy biotech wheat,
only the FAS officers stationed in Pakistan, Peru, Sri
Lanka and Yemen responded affirmatively.
FAS officials in 17 countries, including top importer
Japan and seventh-largest importer, South Korea, all
A "don't know" response came from FAS offices
in 32 countries, including major wheat importers Mexico,
Philippines and Taiwan.
Monsanto has said that if its biotech wheat is approved,
it would not market the product until there was consumer
acceptance of the product.
U.S. wheat farmers have been engaged in a spirited
debate over whether a genetically modified crop would
be a boon or burden to their industry.
But 81 percent of farmers attending an American Farm
Bureau Federation convention in January surveyed by
Reuters said the U.S. and Canadian governments should
approve Monsanto's application.
The United States, the world's largest wheat exporter,
is projected by USDA to ship more than 31 million metric
tons abroad this year.