Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Illegal GM wheat contamination in the US

GM wheat is not commercialised anywhere in the world but, last week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed  a farmer from Oregon found illegal GM wheat plants in his field. This herbicide-tolerant wheat developed by the biotech transnational Monsanto to withstand direct application of Roundup was last authorised to be tested in open air fields in Oregon in 2001. It is uncertain how the contamination happened or if it is an isolated incident.

US wheat importers reacted strongly to this announcement Japan cancelled a tender offer to buy US grain  South Korea Millers suspended imports of US wheat, Thailand put its ports on alert, the European Union urged its 27 Member States to test certain wheat shipments from the US while  China and the Philippines are monitoring the situation.

Will Australia be next?
Australian farmers and consumers could be the next victims of GM wheat contamination. The Australian Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) has already approved fourteen GM wheat field trials  in five states and territories across Australia and commercial varieties could be authorised as soon as 2015The GM wheat currently tested is based on dsRNA technology prone to unexpected and unpredictable effects that have not been considered in the risk assessments done by the OGTR and other international regulators. From the USDA findings and many examples of contamination around the globe, it is clear the cultivation of GM wheat carries unacceptable contamination risks for farmers and consumers.
No appetite for Australian GM wheat
GM What
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 new 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. This is clear indication that growing GM wheat would have devastating economic consequences for tax payers, wheat farmers and the food industry.

Take action: help us to stop GM wheat!
>> Australia imports food products made in USA. Request the OGTR and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) to conduct widespread testing of GM wheat on these products. GM wheat hasn't been approved and shouldn't enter the food chain!

>> Call the CSIRO and the University of Adelaide to cancel all open air GM wheat field trials and to revoke any plan to commercialise GM wheat in Australia, given the risks to consumers, wheat farmers and the food industry.

>> Help us spread the world: watch and share on social media a short animation on GM wheat.