Mother takes action to protect family from GM wheat experiment

Press release - 14 July, 2011
Thursday 14 July, 2011, Canberra: This morning, activists brought a stop to a secret GM wheat experiment on the outskirts of Canberra. The experiment has been shrouded in controversy following revelations that Australia’s peak scientific body, CSIRO, planned human feeding trials and stonewalled information requests.

“We had no choice but to take action to bring an end to this experiment,” said Greenpeace Food campaigner Laura Kelly. “This is about the protection of our health, the protection of our environment and the protection of our daily bread.”

CSIRO’s wheat experiment came under recent scrutiny when eight international scientists and doctors questioned the ethics and scientific rigour behind it. In an open letter the scientists questioned the safety of human feeding trials planned for later this year in which Australians would be fed GM wheat from the Canberra-based trial.

On 30 June, CSIRO rejected a Freedom of Information request by Greenpeace which requested further information to ensure the safety of the human feeding trials, along with transparent information about the commercial partnerships CSIRO has with foreign biotech companies to commercialise GM wheat.

In a July report – 'Australia’s Wheat Scandal' - Greenpeace detailed a major conflict of interest at CSIRO. Two directors of the biotech giant Nufarm – the distributor of Monsanto’s products in Australia - also sat on the CSIRO board at the time of the wheat experiment’s approval.

“GM wheat has already been rejected in Canada, North America, Russia and the EU. With CSIRO being used as a front for foreign biotech companies, Australia’s multi-billion dollar wheat industry risks becoming a petri-dish for these secret and risky experiments. ” said Kelly.

“We need to keep Australia’s food healthy, safe, and fair. The Australian Government must step in and protect the health of Australian people,” she said.

Two women, including a mother concerned about her family’s health, used whipper snippers to remove the controversial crop before day break. The activists constructed a decontamination area to safely dispose of the untested and potentially unstable genetically modified organisms and wore protective clothing.

“This GM wheat should never have left the lab,” said activist and mother, Heather McCabe.

“I'm sick of being treated like a dumb Mum who doesn’t understand the science. As far as I’m concerned, my family's health is too important. GM wheat is not safe, and if the Government can't protect the safety of my family, then I will.”

“It is time Julia Gillard stood up to global biotech companies and protected Australia’s daily bread. With public health and our largest food export under threat, this is too big an issue for the Prime Minister to continue to ignore,” said Ms. Kelly.

Trials of potentially unstable GM wheat strains are currently planted in five states and territories across Australia.

Read the report: ‘Australia’s Wheat Scandal.’

For more information, contact:

Media Advisor in Canberra: Elsa Evers, 0438 204 041

Media Advisor in Sydney: James Lorenz, 0400 376 021

Photos and video: Abe Powell, 0409 812 641

Categories