Responding to biotech giant Monsanto's admission yesterday [Monday] that some of its canola seed may contain GM material that is not approved for human consumption, the US Food and Drug Administration said the canola appears to pose no health risks. yesterday reported that Monsanto was asking regulators to turn a blind eye, as the GM material, called GT200, was safe to consume (click here to see yesterday's story /news_detail.asp?art=48943&app=1). The FDA is nearing completion of its voluntary review of the canola and said it will be sending Monsanto a letter stating the canola is safe to eat and will not require mandatory FDA approval to be sold.

The US Agriculture Department is still reviewing the canola seed to see if it poses any environmental risks, reported the Wall Street Journal. Despite the FDA's decision, the USDA's decision carries more weight and a rejection would be a serious blow to the company.

Monsanto, a subsidiary of Pharmacia Corp., Peapack, N.J., did not plan to sell the GT200 canola, opting instead to market another herbicide-resistant version. However, trace amounts of the GT200 were found in Canada. The discovery prompted recalls, hurting Canadian canola exports and Monsanto tried to head off lawsuits and recalls in the US by getting the canola approved in case it had already escaped across the border.

Monsanto executives will be breathing a sigh of relief, as this offers them a buffer from public embarrassment and potential lawsuits.