28 June 2002

GM-free oil to lift OSR area?

GROWING demand for GM-free oil as well as biodiesel development could see the EUs oilseed rape area double in the next 10 years, says leading Danish food and crop breeding company Danisco.

"We believe there could be growth of 10% a year in the next five to 10 years," says Danisco Seeds business area manager Michael Andersen. "Canadian farmers cannot guarantee GM-free oil but there is a growing need for it, especially for certain food brands. Unilever and Nestlé are demanding GM-free oil."

But any expansion would need the 4.93m hectare cap on the EU oilseed area under the WTOs Blair House Agreement to be revised (Business, May 17).

In the longer term Danisco thinks GM also has a future. "We still believe in the science and have not given up on the technology," notes Danisco Seed UKs Hilary Mountjoy.

"But there is little point investing in GMs if in the short term there is no prospect of them becoming commercial. Otherwise its a bottomless pit."

The companys biotech crop breeding work has been on hold for two years since the programme transferred to Syngenta. Daniscos own GM sugar and fodder beet varieties from earlier breeding work are ready to commercialise.

Ironically, biotech work on enzymes and non-crop food ingredients continues apace at Daniscos Copenhagen headquarters. &#42