June 22, 2004
-- CropChoice news -- Toronto Star, 06/19/04:
Monsanto Co. has formally withdrawn submissions for
its genetically modified wheat from all regulatory agencies
except the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a company
spokesperson said yesterday. The withdrawal is the last
step in Monsanto's announcement last month that it would
shelve plans to introduce the world's first GM wheat,
spokesperson Chris Horner said. "It's a natural
part of the process that we announced last month,"
Monsanto had asked for government approvals for the
GM wheat in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia,
South Africa and Columbia, Horner said. The company
and regulators in the countries "mutually agreed"
that Monsanto should withdraw its submissions, he said.
Monsanto had planned to commercialize the wheat for
growth in Canada and the United States, but ran into
opposition from export buyers who worried their consumers
would reject it.
Canadian and U.S. farm groups and exporters worried
that the modified wheat could not be kept separate from
their traditional crops, putting other grains at risk
of rejection from buyers. Environmental groups around
the world also demonstrated against the wheat because
of safety fears. Monsanto has said it would wait to
resume work on the wheat, designed to resist applications
of its Roundup weed killer, until other types of GM
wheat are commercialized. In the U.S., Monsanto withdrew
submissions to the U.S. department of agriculture and
the Environmental Protection Agency, but will proceed
with an application at the Food and Drug Administration.
Approval there would establish that the wheat is safe
for human and livestock consumption. "It would
be one less regulatory approval to obtain, if and when
that day ever comes," Horner said.
Approval from the FDA alone would not be enough to
allow Monsanto to commercialize the wheat, he said.
Monsanto withdrew all its feed, food and environmental
applications in Canada, where the Canadian Wheat Board
had threatened to sue the company if it received approvals.
"Monsanto has made the right decision," said
Louise Waldman, a spokesperson for the wheat board.
The board continues to lobby Ottawa to change its regulatory
process to consider the market effect of modified wheat
before any decision, she said.