"As an organisation that stands-up for transparency, Greenpeace is open to scrutiny,” said Greenpeace Head of Campaigns Steve Campbell. “This action has stirred up heated debate and it’s about time. There are serious risks associated with GM wheat experiments, risks to Australia's health, our environment and our economy. To date, information on these risks has been ignored and covered up by our Government.”
Greenpeace has come under fire for taking action to force this issue into the light, including plans to undertake the first ever GM human feeding trial. However, to accuse Greenpeace of being anti-science is far from the truth.
“Greenpeace is demanding that the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, urgently increase funding for the CSIRO, so that our public science agency stops having its strings pulled by billion-dollar foreign biotech corporations. Australia's public science body needs to rebuild their independence, rather than being forced to continually go cap in hand to multinationals for funds,” said Campbell. “Australia faces a number of challenges and we need a peak science body that works for us, not for vested interests, who's motive is not science, Australians health or our farmers' future, but the billion dollars they stand to gain from patenting Australia's bread and controlling our major grain industry.”
The trial outside Canberra was proposed and approved while two directors of Nufarm - the exclusive distributor of biotech giant Monsanto’s Roundup Ready products in Australia - were serving on the board of CSIRO.
Monsanto co-owns Intergrain which is running the GM wheat trials in West Australia.
In South Australia, GM wheat trials are run by the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG). Mark Tester, a former Monsanto employee, is on the ACPFG Board, as is Joshua Hoffheimer, lawyer for Monsanto.
Greenpeace attempted to introduce some transparency into these trials by submitting a number of Freedom of Information requests to CSIRO. Our requests were refused on the grounds that the information was ‘commercial in confidence.’
This is not independent science. The US, Russia, Canada and the EU rejected GM wheat. Monsanto and others are in Australia because our weak regulations give them free reign.
"International biotech are not here to help our farmers or feed the world,” said Campbell. “They are here to patent Australian wheat and monopolise our $4.7 billion wheat industry. And they are getting away with it because our peak science body is now so impoverished it is forced into financial relationships governed by commercial in confidence conditions. This is not the culture or structure that produces solid science based on the public interest."
For more information contact James Lorenz at 0400 376 021