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US Grain Farmers Finally Wake Up to Threat of EU Boycott of GE Crop
U.S. farm group says producers need to know GMO risks

(Reuters; 03/21/99)

SAN FRANCISCO, March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. farmers need to know that if
they choose to plant genetically modified crops, they run the risk of not being
able to market their product to foreign customers, a panel of grain buyers said
Saturday.

Delegates at the National Grain and Feed Association conference said in a
climate where genetically modified crops face intense opposition from U.S.
trading partners, especially in the European Union, farmers need to know
more about the crops they are planting.

GMO crops have been the subject of intense debate in Europe, where the
crops, which are genetically-modified to fight disease and improve the
commodity in other ways, are viewed as a danger to public health.

The United States, however, has approved many varieties of GMO crops
made by companies including **Monsanto**, DeKalb and AgrEvo, and has sharply
criticised the European Union for dragging its feet in approving the GMO
crops. The U.S. Agriculture Department has expressed frustration, saying the
EU has not been basing its decisions on sound science, but instead on
politics.

U.S. farmers have been quick to embrace GMO crops. Approximately 40
percent of the 1999 U.S. corn crop is expected to be planted with genetically
modified seed.

But grain buyers at the conference expressed concern that farmers do not
know that the crops they are growing face intense opposition, which puts the
buyers in a bind when it comes time to try to sell the products abroad. One
elevator operator said he has had foreign purchasers reject his product
because he would not certify that none of the sale included GMO commodities.

At this point, most grain buyers do not test the commodities they
purchase to determine if they are GMO products, but if opposition intensifies, they
may be forced to do just that, company officials said.

The delegates voted at their annual meeting to distribute information to
farmers about the GMO issue in order to educate the producers about the
potential marketability problems of the crops. A representative from the
National Corn Growers Association said his group plans to create a web page
that will list all of the types of GMO corn farmers can buy and which
countries still forbid the importation of the products to help farmers in their
planting decisions.

Many representatives at the conference expressed concern that more and
more U.S. producers will plant GMO crops while the backlog of GMO applications at
the EU expands. Most said they expect the EU will not approve any GMO
varieties in 1999.

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