WORLD MARKETS FORCE MONSANTO TO ABANDON GM WHEAT
Dublin, 11 May 2004 ï Global Vision Consulting Ltd.
Monsanto - the world's biggest seller of GM seeds - announced yesterday that is has given up its plan to release its pesticide-resistant "Roundup Ready" GM wheat to the world market, after investing seven years and hundreds of millions of dollars to develop the controversial crop.
At a meeting to discuss the health risks of GM crops with former UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher in London last night, GM-free Ireland co-ordinator Michael O'Callaghan said "Farmers and consumers around the world are celebrating the fact that Monsanto has given up on this GM product because of pressure from US and Canadian farmers who realise the GM wheat would lead to the collapse of their billion-dollar markets in Europe and Japan. The Irish and British governments should understand the significance of this market rejection and finally admit the folly of their pro-GM policy which can only lead to loss of market share for British and Irish farmers and food producers if our governments persist in their misguided policy to legalise GM crops on these islands."
The controversial "Roundup Ready" GM wheat, which would have increased the use of toxic pesticides, was part of Monsanto's strategy to dominate the world's bread market. But European consumer resistance to GM bread gave a clear signal to US and Canadian farmers that they would have lost the biggest share of their export market overnight if they had accepted to grow GM wheat. According to a US Department of Agriculture survey of countries, only four countries in the world (Peru, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Yemen) were willing to buy the GM wheat.
Greenpeace International said the decision fits a pattern of industry retreat set last month by Bayer CropScience's decision to withdraw GE maize from the UK. "This is a victory for the environment, farmers and consumers," said Greenpeace campaigner Pat Venditti in Canada. "Strong rejection of GM wheat from virtually every corner of the globe once again showed the resistance to GM foods."
Monsanto announced 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. The Canadian Wheat Board said 87% of Canadian wheat buyers now require wheat to be certified GM-free.
At the Forging a GM Policy for Ireland workshop which took place in Dublin on 26 April, Irish Farmers Association Deputy President Ruaidhri Deasy said "Monsanto seems to be Hell-bent on stuffing this GMO technology down our throats. The IFA's stance on GMO's is: Keep GM products out of Ireland. We don't need them. We certainly can't pay for them. And our customers don't want them."
Monsanto is famed for its pesticides, PCBs, Agent Orange (used to defoliate Vietnam), and GM growth hormones for cattle, and has been widely criticised for its failure to compensate thousands of farmers who went bankrupt following the massive failure of its GM cotton crop in India.
Michael O'Callaghan added: "How long will it take for the penny to drop in the minds of Irish politicians? Ireland can corner our share of the market for GM free produce which 80% of EU consumers demand by simply maintaining the ban on the commercial release of GM crops North and South of the border. If not, these politicians will go down in history as the fools who destroyed our farming future for generations to come."
Person to contact:
Michael O'Callaghan •
tel (0404) 43 885