Premier of Australia’s largest wheat state bins GM wheat

Press release - 24 March, 2011
Premier Colin Barnett has rejected the commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) wheat in WA, Australia’s largest wheat producing state, due to export market rejection.

Premier Barnett rejected the use of genetic modification in the WA wheat industry during question time on Tuesday. GM technology is patented almost exclusively to multinational chemical company Monsanto.

"I support science and I support research programs, but this Government has not made any decision to support GM wheat, and I do not expect we will," says Barnett.

The Premier points to rejection by Western Australia's major export markets as the reason for the state's rejection of GM wheat.

"We are not contemplating GM wheat and I did note Japanese consumers would not support GM wheat," said Premier Barnett.

Greenpeace is now calling on Federal Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig, and the minister responsible for Australia's Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, Health Minister Nicola Roxon, to make public their position on GM wheat in Australia.

"Ministers Ludwig and Roxon need to follow Premier Barnett's lead and reject GM wheat in Australia, recognising the risks global consumer rejection of Monsanto's patented technology poses for our major grains export," said Greenpeace Senior Campaigner, Laura Kelly.

"The federal government has approved trials of over 1,300 lines of GM wheat in Australia this year. Given the threat of market loss GM wheat commercialisation poses to Australia's wheat industry, the obvious question is why the Australian government continues to put their hand out for Monsanto's R&D dollars," says Greenpeace campaigner Laura Kelly.

"What benefit do we get from developing GM wheat if no-one wants to buy it?"

"There is also a well established history of contamination resulting from GM field trails," says Ms. Kelly.

"Can the federal government guarantee to Australia's wheat farmers that their conventional crop will not be damaged by contamination from GM wheat field trials and the resulting GM-discounting of their crop?" asks Ms. Kelly.

Wheat is Australia's most important food crop. Australia exports about AU$4 billion worth of wheat each year, and accounts for 14 per cent of the world's export demand.

Australia exports 80% of its wheat. The remainder is eaten here, but one of Australia's biggest domestic wheat users, Goodman Fielder has publicly rejected GM wheat.

VVPR info:

Elsa Evers 0438 204 041
Laura Kelly – 0407414572

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