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Orlando, Jan 9: Farm scientists said genetically modified (GM) wheat,barley and rice could be available commercially within the next threeyears, although the Starlink controversy could hinder their arrival.Mr James Cook, wheat scientist from Washington State University, saidMonsanto's Roundup Ready wheat, used to control weeds, could be availableto farmers by 2003.If approved by government regulators and not shunned by consumers, itwould be the first GM wheat joining a basket of crops alreadybio-engineered including corn, soybeans and cotton. Mr Cook said as aresult of the Starlink corn incident, the wheat industry has promised notto make the same mistakes in its marketing of bio-wheat. "Starlink was awake-up call for us," Mr Cook said during a panel discussion at theAmerican Farm Bureau Federation convention. "Because of Starlink, sciencehas really had to clean up its act."Ms Ellen Terpstra, president of the USA Rice Institute, said Aventisexpected to unveil the first GM rice, called Liberty Herbicide, toconsumers by 2003. The bio-rice variety, would be used to repel red rice,a devastating weed that is a significant problem in the south. "In thewake of Starlink, Aventis has assured the industry it would not release itif the market was not ready for it," Ms Terpstra said.Both scientists agreed that when GM wheat, barley and rice hit themarkets, they would need to be segregated because of foreign buyers likeJapan and Europe, who have banned a number of biotech crops due toconsumer fears."We have learned our lessons from Starlink, and we will work harder withother countries for their acceptance before new GM crops go on themarketplace," Ms Terpstra said.(Reuters)

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