[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
[SANET-MG] squendered taxes
The article below and editorial deals with the Canadian public
relations efforts on GM wheat on behalf of Monsanto. At the end of the
editorial there is a brief mention of the $millions squandered by Ag
bureaucrats to support Monsanto wheat even though, even the low grade
Morons in Parliament must have known that the world wheat market was
not as passive and gullible as themselves.
I hate having to pay taxes to support US enterprises such as Monsanto.
Otherwise, theCanadian news media have participated in a conspiracy of
silence on the the squandered tax money (Canadian news media are either
supported by the government ,ie CBC, or owned by corporations that
provide pr not news).
Seeds of doubt over the Monsanto decision
- The Globe and Mail, By PETER PHILLIPS, May 12, 2004
On Monday morning, Monsanto Corp. blinked. After more than three years of
an increasingly tense debate over its genetically modified (GM) Roundup
Ready (RR) wheat, the company announced that it has suspended all further
research and commercialization efforts, in all countries, effective
immediately. While it has not withdrawn its current applications with
Canadian and U.S. regulators, the company states that they will not
proceed in the foreseeable future.
A decade ago, Monsanto Corp. inserted a gene into spring wheat to make the
plant tolerant to glyphosate, a broad-spectrum, non-specific herbicide
sold under the trademarked name Rounduptm (Roundup Ready and other
tolerant systems are currently used in soybeans, corn, canola and cotton,
and widely cultivated in nine countries). Both U.S. and Canadian
regulators were expected to approve introduction of the new wheat,
enabling Monsanto to bring it to market by spring of 2005.
But Monsanto hadn't reckoned on market resistance. Canada Western Red
Spring wheat, Western Canada's single largest field crop, is grown by
about 53,000 farmers, who export more than 80 per cent to foreign markets.
Buyers in Japan and Europe said they wouldn't buy from us if RR wheat were
introduced here, or else they would not pay top price for it.
Monsanto's announcement has been hailed as a victory for consumers and
farmers. But its impacts will be mixed in the long term for researchers,
producers and consumers. Ultimately, we've exchanged short-term certainty
for long-term uncertainty.
For one thing, Monsanto will not earn anything on its recent investments,
conservatively estimated at U.S. $50-million over the past 10 years, and
so other firms may shy away from research related to production traits in
wheat, and possibly other major food crops.
At first, farmers will be pleased that the potential threat of market
disruption, or of foreign buyers offering lower prices for wheat, has been
postponed. That will especially please organic wheat producers and farmers
who can handle weed pressures in their crops. Some North American farmers
may be disappointed, because RR wheat offered better weed control, higher
yields and some production efficiencies. A recent unpublished survey shows
significant interest by North American farmers in at least testing the new
Consumers who care about GM are happy because they'll be able to avoid the
inconvenience and cost of seeking out GM-free produce. But it's estimated
that a majority of consumers are indifferent to the GM issue, and they
could be worse off -- because RR wheat's potential yield gains and lower
prices won't be realized.
The longer-term costs of this decision are complex. Scientists may
conclude that there's little point in working on improving production
traits such as herbicide- and drought-tolerance and insect- or
viral-resistance. We've already seen developers withdraw GM flax, potatoes
and tomatoes from the market and reduce their research in these crops.
Work is switching to crops where GM traits are already well-accepted --
soybeans, corn, cotton and canola.
Even with the recent acceleration of investment in agri-food research, we
have seen a slowdown in productivity gains and greater yield variability
in some crops, because of new and unanticipated environmental factors and
disease. We need sustained research. Yet governments, which currently fund
about one-third of global agri-food research, show little interest in
making up any shortfall.
The need for greater productivity and profitability remains. Monsanto's
decision to shelve RR wheat may very well be the right one for consumers
today, but it may have a long-term cost. If research shifts away from
wheat -- the world's single most important source of human nutrition -- it
could significantly affect the location, cost and environmental impact of
global wheat production.
Monsanto's announcement will cool the debate about the new technology's
impact on farmers and markets, but the issue won't go away. All new
technologies create winners and losers. Ultimately, we need to find some
way to enable new, potentially transformative technologies to co-exist
with conventional technologies. It is not acceptable to have to only have
winner-take-all resolutions, as happened Monday.
Peter W. B. Phillips is the director of the College of Biotechnology at
the University of Saskatchewan.
- Globe and Mail (Editorial), May 12, 2004
Monsanto has blinked. This is good news for the Canadian Wheat Board, but,
in the circumstances, resist a celebration.
The U.S. chemical giant has been trying for years to win approval in
Canada and the United States for its Roundup Ready spring wheat,
genetically altered to make it resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.
As with Roundup Ready canola, which is in wide use, farmers could spray
their fields with Roundup knowing that it would kill the weeds but not the
wheat. The benefits would include greater yields.
On Monday, Monsanto said it would stop seeking approval to sell its wheat.
It said fewer farmers were planting spring wheat, and insisted the
decision had nothing to do with the opposition of the wheat board or with
the protests of environmental activists against GM foods in general. That
line is hard to swallow. More likely, as wheat board chair Ken Ritter put
it, "it finally dawned on them that the only way you sell something is if
you have someone who can buy it."
And that's the sad part. The long-standing refusal by Europe, Japan and
others to import GM wheat means Canadian wheat exports would collapse if
Roundup Ready wheat were grown commercially in this country. Even if only
a few farmers used the altered seed, it could not be segregated to the
satisfaction of foreign buyers. This is what drove the wheat board's
opposition, and it is hard to dispute its economic reasoning. But the good
that might have come of GM wheat, a prospect that led the Canadian
government itself to help fund Monsanto's research, is being lost.
To unsubscribe from SANET-MG:
1- Visit http://lists.sare.org/archives/sanet-mg.html to unsubscribe or;
2- Send a message to <firstname.lastname@example.org> from the address subscribed to the list. Type "unsubscribe sanet-mg" in the body of the message.
Visit the SANET-MG archives at: http://lists.sare.org/archives/sanet-mg.html
For more information on grants and other resources available through the SARE program, please visit http://www.sare.org.