Sunday 26th of May 2019

genetically modified lies...


Fields near Tamora, NSW. (Picture by Gus)

Australia's GM wheat will only worsen world hunger

Kumi Naidoo

From my first introduction to Australia via a picture book as a child, I was captivated by Australia's vast and pristine landscapes. To my mind yours is the country of health, nature and purity.

Yet on my first voyage to Australia as the executive director of Greenpeace International, I am devastated to find myself in a country set to become the first in the world to produce genetically modified (GM) wheat.

Nine trials of GM wheat are currently being planted across five states and territories, with the Australian Government predicting it will have GM bread on supermarket shelves by 2015. As the head of a global NGO that campaigns on food security around the world, I am here to support Greenpeace Australia's efforts to stop control of this crucial food staple from falling into the hands of transnational GM food companies.

Oxfam reported in 2011 that a handful of manufacturers, producers and retailers already control 70 per cent of decisions made in the global food system.[1] The world's top four seed companies - Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta and Bayer - now control over half of the world's seed sales. These are also the GM companies pushing for control of Australian wheat.

As a native of South Africa, and someone who has seen first-hand starvation in Africa I am often asked how it is that I can be opposed to GM. This questioning assumes that GM leads to healthier, sustainable and more abundant crops – but this is far from the truth.

In fact, GM has the potential to increase hunger around the globe. This of course jars with most people's logic (and defies brilliant marketing campaigns by the GM industry) that the companies responsible for producing food globally could actually cause further food scarcity. It angers me that corporate scientists and global GM companies can still get away with making the bogus claim that their seeds will feed the poor, when in fact their only goal is greater profits.

This is not just the opinion of Greenpeace. Last Monday, eight prominent international scientists wrote an open letter to the CSIRO questioning the ethics of GM wheat trials being run in conjunction with the French biotech company, Limagrain.

a global GM nightmare

In Australia, Monsanto has started to add to its 'feed the world' myth by claiming that GM crops are more 'nutritious' than natural foods. A handful of GM chemical companies are working with government scientists on a type of white bread they say will cure bowel cancer. The reality however is that this magically modified white bread is no better for you than any number of safe, healthy, affordable foods already available in local grocery stores. Yet the Australian government continues to spend millions of dollars on the research hoping to create a market for something that is not needed.

All of Australia's major wheat market competitors, including North America, have rejected GM wheat. It is my profound hope that Australians will do the same and opt instead to protect the good, safe grains that have kept you healthy for centuries. The pristine country of Australia is no place to start a global GM nightmare.

chefs unite!...

Australia's reputation as an outstanding food producer is at risk.

We are proud to be two of Australia's leading chefs and food industry spokesmen. Making and serving fresh and tasty food is a great pleasure for us. We have built our lives and careers around this passion.

But we are disturbed by the prospect that Australia may become one of the first countries in the world to grow and eat genetically modified wheat. Wheat is a fundamental part of our daily diet, the basis of bread, pasta, noodles, pastries and many other foods.

Whether or not you agree with its methods, Greenpeace's destruction of GM wheat from a CSIRO trial site just outside Canberra last week has stirred up the debate. And the state of our food - and the ways it is produced - is a debate worth having.

Read more:

Meanwhile on the other side, in the silly corner:
Belting wheat

Am I wrong? Sixty years ago our wheat crops were failing due to the disease ''wheat rust'' (''Crop attacked'', July 15). CSIRO scientists found a way of modifying wheat. They produced a variety of modified wheat that was ''rust-resistant''. To my knowledge, we have had no problems with this modified wheat since then.

Sid Wolifson Chiswick

Read more:

Yes Sid, you are wrong. Totally wrong... There are two main ways to "modify" wheat. One is by seed (genes of same species) selection which has been done for the last 2000 years or so — and the other modification is by the new method of Gene Manipulation (GM).

GM involves the most un-natural step ever: that of crossing species boundaries. Using genetic material of one species to modify another... This is how the lab technicians can achieve chickens that glow in the dark and other marvels that are totally un-natural. The chickens are the least of our worries... But to do GM on a large scale to PLANTS, where spores can float over thousands of kilometres — and corrupt non-GM wheat-seed forming — is totally unacceptable.

The last word to Diane:
Call against the grain

The CSIRO lamely describes Greenpeace's removal of experimental genetically modified wheat in Canberra as ''emotional blackmail and spin doctoring'' (Briefs, July 15). Greenpeace might be bold in its actions but GM wheat is one crop even the usually gung-ho pro-GM US rejects as having too many risks.

Wheat is the backbone of Australian agriculture and heritage. Once GM wheat is in the ground it's only a matter of time before contamination renders all wheat in Australia genetically modified and under foreign ownership

Diane Davie Rose Bay

Read more:

good on greenpeace...

Greenpeace says its Sydney headquarters have been raided and shutdown by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) following last week's destruction of a trial wheat crop in Canberra.

Last Thursday Greenpeace activists scaled the fences of a CSIRO experimental farm at Ginninderra in the capital's north and destroyed a crop of genetically modified wheat with brush-cutters.

The crop was to be used in the first human trials in Australia.

Greenpeace says it took the dramatic action because of concerns over health, cross-contamination and the secrecy surrounding the experiments.


Shame on the CSIRO... There are better things to do than GM wheat. Give it up.

bigger than government .....

Lawmakers in Vermont are looking to regulate food labels so customers can know which products are made from genetically modified crops, but agricultural giant Monsantos say they will sue if the state follows through.

If the bill in question, H-722 (the "VT Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act"), passes the state Senate and House, manufacturers will be required to label products that are created either partially or in full from a genetically modified organism, or GMO. Such man-made crops have become a trademark of the billion-dollar Monsanto corporation, and in the past the company has gone to great lengths to keep themselves the number-one name in American agriculture, even if those profits are made possible from playing God.

Monsanto is going mad over the proposal, however, which would also make them unable to label their productions as "natural," "naturally made," "naturally grown" or "all natural," if, in fact, they are not. For the corporation, it would seem that moving products and making money is much more of a worthwhile venture than telling its customers what exactly they are consuming.

With Vermont legislators now standing in the way of what could mean even more money for Monsanto, the company says they will sue the state if H-722 is approved. Now in fear of a lawsuit in the future, lawmakers in Vermont have put a hold on any future voting regarding the bill. If history is any indication, Monsanto is more than likely to have their way and win yet another battle.

Monsanto is no stranger to the American legal system, and has forced competing farm after farm to be shut down or bought out by bringing lawsuits against the little guy throughout their history. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto's legal team tried to file nearly 150 lawsuits against independent farmers, often for allegations that their patented GMO-seeds had someone managed to be carried onto unlicensed farms. Often those farms have been unable to fight against Monsanto's mega-lawyers and have been forced to fold in response. The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association tried taking Monsanto to court earlier this year to keep them from following similar suits, but a Federal District Court judge in Manhattan shut down their plea. The group has since filed an appeal.

Regardless of if the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association's appeal will be granted, Monsanto is making waves in Vermont where they hope to continue creating GMO products and pushing them to consumers without warning. Between state lawmakers putting their vote on hold and past precedents, Monsanto looks more than likely to win their latest battle, though. Back in 1994 Vermont tried to keep dairy corporations from marketing milk made from cows injected with the Bovine Growth Hormone, citing incidents where the rBGH had been tied to cases of cancer. Monsanto was victorious in that battle, and numerous others in the years since.

Monsanto Threatens to Sue the Entire State of Vermont