ref: GAIA SERVER II:Monsanto:09. Monsantoseeksworldpolcy.DOC June 22/98


Sources: Reuters Gilbert Le Gras

TORONTO -- Hendrik Verfaillie, the president of Monsanto, said the world needs a single policy on genetically altered food to avoid trade impasses that could hinder global food security in the next century. "European and Japanese consumers are not accepting this product and the benefits of biotechnology as quickly and that is creating trade problems." "We need to harmonize our policies in order to eliminate this trade draw," Verfaillie told 600 delegates at the joint American and Canadian seed trade association meeting here.

The acreage sown to genetically altered crops has burgeoned to 65 million acres this year from only five million acres two years ago, he said. Verfaillie also said genetically altered crops were the only viable solution to the likelihood of the world's population doubling to 10 billion by 2050 while trying to feed itself as the amount of arable land remains unchanged at six million square miles, an area roughly the size of South America. Sixty four gene crops have been approved in the U.S. and Canada, compared to nine in the European Union. Japan has approved 20 gene crops, he said. "We have to convince the consumer this is good for him," Verfaillie said. High stearate soybeans and high beta carotene canola are two examples of products Monsanto is currently developing that have nutritional as well as health benefits, he said.

High stearate content in soybeans will yield more viscous oil and reduce the need to hydrogenate the oil in order to make margarine, he said. Hydrogenating vegetable oil increases its fatty acid content which makes it less healthy.

High beta carotene canola should benefit many Asians consumers. "In Asia, there is a lot of night blindness caused, basically, by a lack of sufficient levels of vitamin A," Verfaillie said. "With this canola oil, if you make it into margarine or if you spread it on your salad, then people would receive enough beta carotene to avoid night blindness," he said.