n°20 - mai 2001

CANADA – Le blé transgénique non souhaité

Par Inf’OGM

Publié le 03/04/2001


Le Bureau Canadien du blé (Canadian Wheat Boar d) a demandé au gouvernement de ne pas autoriser le blé transgénique de Monsanto. Son président estime que l’autorisation ne peut être acceptable qu’à deux conditions : que ce blé présente bel et bien des avantages pour les producteurs et qu’une véritable ségrégation soit opérée pour satisfaire les consommateurs. Sa position est d’ordre purement économique, puisqu’il a précisé que les pays qui achetaient à prix fort le blé canadien, comme la Grande Bretagne, l’Italie et le Japon, s’approvisionneront là où le blé n’est pas génétiquement modifié. Le bureau a même demandé que le gouvernement adopte une loi qui intégrerait dans ses procédures d’autorisation “l’acceptation du marché”.

Opinion – Wheat board must be heard

The StarPhoenix, Canada, http://www.saskstar.sk.ca

April 18, 2001

Ottawa should be paying close attention to the advice of its monopoly grain

marketer that neither Prairie farmers nor their global customers are ready

to accept a transgenic wheat that Monsanto wants to register for sale in

Canada by 2003.

No other grain exporting nation allows the production of genetically

modified wheat, not even the U.S. where Monsanto is based. While being

first on the market with a new product can often be the key to success, the

Canadian Wheat Board is on the mark with its assessment that Canada, as the

world’s second-biggest grain exporter, has much to lose if it gets ahead of

its customers.

At a time when consumer confidence in global agriculture is hitting rock

bottom, with alarmist talk about genetically modified foods finding a

receptive audience among people concerned about mad cow disease and the

recent outbreak of hoof and mouth, Canada should heed the board’s call to

put off registering the GM wheat variety.

The current registration system in Canada places no value on market

acceptance of a grain variety, CWB chair Ken Ritter told a Commons

committee. As long a variety has good disease resistance, agronomic value

and quality as its benchmark, it can be registered.

« We believe that genetically modified wheat varieties shouldn’t be

introduced until it can be shown that there will be clear benefits for

western Canadian farmers and the Canadian handling system can segregate GM

varieties to meet customer requirements, » he notes.

Rather than being one more unscientific and baseless anti-GM rant, Ritter’s

stance is based on a practicality that comes from a thorough knowledge of

the market in which his organization operates. The reality is that

consumers in Europe and Asian nations such as Japan don’t want foods that

have been genetically altered to withstand weed-killing chemicals.

With many of the 70 countries that now buy grain from the board refusing to

accept grain with even minute traces of GM product, Ritter’s position is

completely rational. Customers have every right to choose what they buy and

consume, even if their bias against transgenic foods is based on sheer


The wheat board is sensible in calling for a moratorium on registering GM

wheat and barley until Canada’s grain handling system can efficiently and

effectively identify and segregate large volumes of transgenic grains to

meet customer demands. As well, the board is right to call for the food

inspection agency and Canada Customs to take action to prevent importation

of GM wheat and barley varieties into Canada for production until proper

segregation measures are enacted.

Monsanto may argue that the government has no scientific grounds to reject

registration but the board makes a sound economic case on behalf of Prairie

farmers, who risk losing hundreds of millions in lost sales, why approval

should be delayed.

The board and politicians should encourage research on transgenic grains

because Canadian farmers stand to benefit immensely from it. However,

rather than put the onus on the private sector, whose need to protect

proprietary interests raises consumer concerns, more of the research needs

to done in the accessible public domain to facilitate market acceptance.

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