Victory: Monsanto drops GE Wheat

Feature story - 11 May, 2004
There's a reason to celebrate today: Monsanto has caved at last and given up on further development or open field trials of its genetically engineered "Roundup Ready" wheat. Monsanto won't admit it has bowed to overwhelming market rejection, but that's clearly behind their decision. It's a hard-won victory for every environmental group, every consumer, every cyberactivist who has said "no" to genetically engineered foods. The decision fits a pattern of industry retreat set last month by Bayer CropScience's decision to withdraw GE maize from the UK.

Monsanto announced that it has suspended further development and open field trials of its genetically engineered, Roundup Ready wheat

"This is a victory for the environment, farmers and consumers," said Pat Venditti, our GE campaigner in Canada. "Strong rejection of GE wheat from virtually every corner of the globe once again showed the resistance to GE foods."

Monsanto announced today that they will defer all further efforts to introduce Roundup Ready wheat, and that they will discontinue breeding and field-level research of the crop. This follows a similar announcement in 2003 when the company announced its withdrawal from the development of pharmaceutical crops.

"Let's hope GE wheat permanently joins GE flax, GE tomatoes and GE potatoes in the dustbin of bad ideas. Rather than having to restage this battle in four years time, we hope that Monsanto has heard loud and clear that genetically engineered wheat is a non-starter," continued Mr. Venditti. "The Canadian Government should make a note of this and re-think its devotion to this unnecessary technology."

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According to the Canadian Wheat Board 87 percent of Canadian wheat buyers now require non-GE certification of wheat. In a survey of countries willing to accept GE wheat by the US Department of Agriculture, only four - Peru, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Yemen - said they would buy it.

Our GE team leader Dan Hindsgaul added: "Last year Monsanto dropped GE pharmaceutical crops and now they have chosen to write off huge investments in developing Roundup Ready GE wheat. Consumers and farmers have long lost confidence in the company that also gave us pesticides, PCBs, Agent Orange and GE growth hormones for cattle. It's only a matter of time when Monsanto also lose the backing they have enjoyed in certain government offices and among financial analysts."