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Monsanto Pulls Plug on Embattled Biotech Wheat
May 10, 2004

Source: Center for Food Safety

WASHINGTON - Monsanto announced today that it is pulling the plug on genetically engineered wheat after seven years of development and failed
efforts to win over farmers and the international wheat market. The
company made the announcement even as its application for
commercialization remains pending, signifying that stiff opposition to
the biotech food crop from U.S. farmers and international markets could
not be overcome.


"Monsanto may call this a corporate realignment, but it's really a full
retreat," said Joseph Mendelson, CFS legal director. "For Monsanto to
pull the plug on biotech wheat at this stage, could hardly be more
significant. The company has been forced to face reality - the market
didn't want this wheat and Monsanto itself is in a struggle for its very
survival."

Monsanto has suffered a number of significant setbacks in the past few
years: the continuing rejection of genetically engineered foods by food
manufacturers (at least 52) and international export markets (over 35
countries); in December 2003 the company was forced to cut distribution
of its high-profit recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (Posilac) by 50
percent after its Austrian production facility failed sterility tests
(company may already have exhausted current supplies of Posilac); in
October 2003, it was forced to pull out of any attempts to market
biopharmaceutical crops resulting in the layoff of approximately 1,200
people; Monsanto lost $1.8 billion in fiscal 2002 and its stock value
has fallen 50 percent since 2001; and PCB and Agent Orange issues
continue to be significant drags on company resources (e.g., liability
for PCB contamination of Anniston, Al.).

"Introduction of genetically modified wheat would have been a commercial
disaster," said Gail Wiley, a North Dakota farmer speaking for the
Dakota Resource Council and the Western Organization of Resource
Councils. "Monsanto's announcement today is a victory for farmers in the
United States and Canada and our consumers overseas. After five years of
effort, we finally convinced Monsanto to face reality: our markets do
not want Roundup Ready wheat."

"This is a huge victory for farmers, consumers and food safety
advocates," added Mendelson, "and signifies a turning point in the
battle against genetically engineered foods."
In March of 2003, CFS along with Western Organization of Resource
Councils filed a legal petition with USDA to prevent the regulatory
approval of genetically engineered wheat. The full petition is available
at http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/li/WheatUSDApetFinalD7.pdf

 

Contact:
Craig Culp, Center for Food Safety, (202) 547-9359,
(301) 509-0925 (mobile), cculp@icta.org

Also contact John Smillie or Kevin Dowling, Western Organization of Resource Councils, (406) 252-9672 to discuss farmer rejection of GE wheat.

 

 


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