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Country News - 2004

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Anti-GM activists celebrate wheat victory

Wednesday 12 May 2004

CAMPAIGNERS against genetically modified crops - the so-called "Frankenstein foods" - are celebrating today what they consider to be a major victory against Monsanto, the US-based multi-national which has pioneered GM research.

The company yesterday announced that it would not sell one of its modified wheats, called Round Up Ready, in Europe because of "consumer resistance" - i.e., the reluctance of Europeans to buy GM foods.

It will, however, be sold in the Third World, where demand is higher because the wheat can improve yields by up to 15%. It gets its name because it is resistant to Round Up, the company's best-selling weed killer, which means that weeds can be killed whilst the wheat thrives.

Critics, however, say this is part of the Monsanto policy of forcing farmers to rely on its products, not just the weed killer but its seed too - unlike natural wheats, farmers cannot save a portion of their crop for next season's planting.

Although the anti campaigners are still angry that the wheat will be on sale in poorer countries, they are delighted that the Monsanto decision has confirmed one of their strongly held beliefs: even if governments give the go-ahead for GM crops, as the UK has in limited circumstance, no-one can force people to buy them.

In other words, the consumer has forced one of the world's chemical giants into a multi-million-dollar back-down.


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