Monsanto Abandons Plans for GM Wheat

With little fanfare, biotech-food giant Monsanto announced yesterday that it would abandon plans to introduce genetically modified wheat to the market. Anti-GM activists, who have fought Monsanto’s plans for some five years, celebrated the announcement as a major victory. However, the impetus for the shift was likely not the moral and ecological concerns raised by enviros, but the financial concerns of farmers. Some 50 percent of U.S. wheat is exported, and Japanese and European wheat millers — the biggest purchasers — had made it very clear they would not buy GM wheat. This led U.S. and Canadian farmers, who have embraced other GM crops, to lobby against GM wheat. While the three core GM crops developed by Monsanto — cotton, soy, and corn — are used in clothes and pressed into oils that end up in processed foods, wheat has a more direct and symbolically loaded connection to culture and the food on our plates.