No Appetite for GM wheat
Wheat is the staple food of almost half the world’s population. There is no genetically modified (GM) wheat commercialised anywhere in the world yet but GM wheat research, led by the CSIRO, is underway in Australia. Commercial varieties could be authorised as soon as 2015 !
Health risks of GM wheat
Last year, scientists warned the new technology used by CSIRO is the source of many surprises to researchers and prone to unexpected and unpredictable effects that have not been considered in the risk assessments done in Australia. GM wheat may cause Glycogen Storage Disease IV, resulting in an enlarged liver, cirrhosis of the liver, and failure to thrive. Read more
Contamination is unavoidable
Introducing GM wheat would also affect conventional and organic wheat farmers because buyers know segregation is impossible. Just few months ago, an Oregon farmer found illegal GM wheat plants in his field. This herbicide-tolerant wheat developed by the biotech transnational Monsanto was last authorised to be tested in open air fields in this US State in 2001. It is uncertain how the contamination happened. Read more
Our wheat industry at risk
Wheat is Australia’s most important agricultural commodity, estimated to be worth $7.5 billion in 2011-12. About two thirds of it is exported. Despite the value of wheat to the Australian economy, there is little understanding about the potential impact of growing GM wheat in Australia. A 2013 report details the results of an extensive investigation into attitudes towards GM wheat of major wheat buying companies in Australia and in key export markets. The response is overwhelming. Twenty five major food companies, including Barilla, Bakers Delight, Carrefour, Sanitarium, and General Mills state that they are not interested in buying GM wheat, or have a policy excluding all GM ingredients. You can download the full report and read the letters of rejection here. Their concerns give a clear indication that our existing Australian wheat markets would be jeopardised by the introduction of GM wheat or contamination of our wheat supply with devastating economic consequences for tax payers, wheat farmers and the food industry. Read more