Genetically modified (GM) sugar would not be commercially produced for at least another ten years because of the complexity of the cane, a sugar biotechnologist told an international sugar conference. However, Professor Frikkie Botha from South Africa's University of Stellenbosch said that once one country began producing GM sugar, all other producers would follow. According to Dr. Botha, consumers would accept GM sugar because it would be a refined product. "All of this work around the world (to increase sugar content in cane and on disease and pest resistance) is at the early experimental stage," Botha told the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists Congress in Brisbane. "The best that scientists have got to is field trials, but the data shows that none of the clones are at a stage where you can make ongoing predictions for increased sucrose and yield." Dr. Botha said scientific work in Brazil, Australia, the United States and South Africa were all experiencing similar problems with the complex sugar cane plant. But GM sugar would eventually be accepted by consumers. "At the moment there is some public uproar (over GM foods) but sugar is a refined product so there will be less resistance to genetically modified sugar, eventually," he said.According to Dr. Botha, work in the area includes both the injection of new genes from other organisms to fight cane diseases, and the discarding of less productive genes.