WINNIPEG -- The Canadian Wheat Board may consider legal action to stop Monsanto Co. from growing genetically modified (GM) wheat in Canada outside limited government-run trials.
"We've given strong assurances to our customers that we will make sure this situation is resolved in Canada, and we intend to take whatever action necessary to do that," Adrian Measner, president and chief executive officer of the big grain marketing agency, said yesterday.
It is the strongest statement the board has made on how far it will go to prevent GM wheat from being grown in the near future in Canada -- and one he plans to repeat to world wheat traders at an International Grains Council meeting in London next week.
St. Louis-based Monsanto is seeking approvals from Canadian and U.S. regulators for a GM wheat that withstands its weed killer, Roundup.
If such approvals are given, Canadian guarantees that its exports do not contain GM wheat will be rendered useless, Mr. Measner said. More than 80 per cent of the board's customers have said they do not want to buy wheat that may contain GM seeds.
"Having it grown in Canada, it's not an option. The costs are just too horrendous and it needs to be addressed," he said.
The board asked Monsanto to agree by next Friday to withdraw its application. The company has not yet formally responded, Mr. Measner said. "We'll see if there's other action we need to take directly with Monsanto," he said. "We're going to review all possibilities and we haven't made any decisions on that, but it could include legal action."