WASHINGTON (B)--Monsanto will not market any new genetically engineered crops until they have been approved for both human food and animal feed in the U.S. and Japan, company President Hendrik Verfaille said Nov. 27.

This prohibition on marketing will also extend to the European Union when it approves a new regulatory regime for GMO crops, which should happen sometime next spring, he said.

Speaking here during an annual conference sponsored by the Farm Journal, Verfaille said with the furor over StarLink corn in mind, Monsanto was also encouraging other agricultural biotechnology companies to hold off on marketing any new biotech crops until they have been approved for both "food and feed."

"StarLink never should have happened," he said. "But we have the opportunity to set a new direction and come out with guidelines."

StarLink corn--created by Aventis CropSciences--was approved for animal feed but not approved for human food because of concern by U.S. regulators that it could potentially cause allergic reactions in people. Traces of its DNA have been found in corn products in the U.S. and Japan, and approximately 300 corn products have been recalled from store shelves because of this.

Verfaille also pledged his company's support for mandatory pre-market notification of U.S. regulators and called upon the entire biotech industry to do the same.

Monsanto, he said, would not market any genetically altered crop that contained any human or animal genes, known food allergens, antibiotic marker genes or the so-called "terminator" technology which renders seeds sterile.

"That's a glaring example of what people feared (in biotechnology)," Verfaille said. "We were blinded by our own enthusiasm (for biotechnology) and missed the fact that this technology raises issues for a lot of people."

Verfaille said his company's pledge not to market new biotech crops before they are approved in the U.S. and Japan would set the release date for its next corn product--which is engineered to fight the corn root worm--from early 2001 until sometime in 2002.

Monsanto--long synonymous with agricultural biotechnology--was spun-off as an independent biotechnology company following the merger earlier this year of its pharmaceutical operations with Pharmacia.

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