Australia’s wheat scandal

Feature Story - 5 July, 2011
Today we released our report outlining the controversy surrounding the GM wheat trials across Australia. Our investigations reveal the biotech takeover of our daily bread.

Australia’s national science body, CSIRO, has approved the world’s first human feeding trials of GM wheat. This is despite serious health, economic and environmental risks. We’ve detailed our findings in a new report titled ‘Australia's wheat scandal: The biotech takeover of our daily bread.

Our findings reveal that CSIRO is in partnership with GM biotech companies to commercialise Australia’s daily bread. It is these companies that stand to benefit – and it is Australian farmers and consumers that stand to lose – if Australia pursues GM wheat. The involvement of biotech companies in the field trials represents a clear conflict of interest. It also corrupts the kind of thorough risk analysis that would have prevented the release of GM wheat across Australia.

Health Risk

Australia is the first country in the world to test GM wheat on humans. GM wheat will only be tested on Australians in short-term and superficial trials that run for just 1 day. There is no stated intention to test for long-term effects or other negative health effects such as allergic or toxic reactions. Read the open letter from scientists and doctors around the world regarding human feeding trials of genetically modified wheat in Australia

Economic risk

GM wheat has been rejected by all the other major wheat producing countries in the world – including the US and Canada – due to the risks involved. Evidence shows that it is inevitable that GM wheat will contaminate traditional wheat crops. Australia is putting at risk its $4.7 billion wheat industry, as our buyers refuse to accept GM wheat.

Environmental risk

Once released into the environment, GM crops cannot be recalled. They can reproduce indefinitely and unpredictably. Releasing GM wheat threatens our natural biodiversity and it also increases reliance on chemical pesticide use.

CSIRO has rejected Greenpeace’s Freedom of Information (FOI) request for documents outlining the health, safety and ethical parameters of its human trials. It is outrageous that CSIRO is testing potentially unstable GM organisms on Australians in secret, with absolutely no public knowledge or oversight of the risks involved.

With Australia’s most important crop under threat, it’s time the federal government stands up to the foreign biotech companies. We won’t sit idly by while Australians become the global guinea pigs for GM wheat.

TAKE ACTION: Write to the government and demand an end to the GM wheat trials