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Australian mums reject GM wheat

Like most parents, my kitchen is filled with bread, pasta, biscuits, noodles, cakes and breakfast cereals ready to feed my ever-hungry children and their friends. The common ingredient in all these foods is wheat. So I was really concerned to find out that Australia may be the first country to grow genetically modified (GM) wheat.

I’m not the only one with concerns. Recent polling conducted by Newspoll and commissioned by MADGE (Mothers Are Demystifying Genetic Engineering) and Greenpeace reveals that 66% of Australian mothers would prefer to buy food free of GM wheat. In contrast, only 3 % of Australian mothers would prefer to buy food that contains GM wheat, while another 29% have no preference either way and 3% don’t know.

Scientists’ short-sighted obsession with GM, combined with ineffective regulation is putting us at risk. The GM wheat being developed by the CSIRO is designed to turn off plant genes. This wheat could turn off our genes when we eat it and cooking it won’t protect us say independent scientists. They warn that the genes being turned off in wheat are similar to the genes that help us store energy. GM wheat could cause Glycogen Storage Disease IV, resulting in liver disease and progressive exhaustion. Children born with this disease usually die at about the age of five.

CSIRO tells us this GM wheat could reduce bowel cancer and lower our GI. However we get the same effects by eating baked beans, lentil soup and putting butter on our toast why aren’t we being told to eat these foods instead?

GM foods have been approved despite a lack of scientific agreement on their safety.  The required experiments simply haven’t been done because the GM patent holders have restricted independent testing and investigation.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called for a moratorium on GM food because “GM foods have not been properly tested for human consumption”, and “there is ample evidence of probable harm”.

We are all eating in the dark.  GM companies have defeated adequate GM labeling worldwide, including in Australia. GM ingredients are sneaking into our food every day without us knowing.

The reality is that the vast GM experiment on the world’s population is almost entirely unmonitored. There is no register for illnesses that may be linked to GM foods, no studies have been done to see if GM food has affected public health, and there has never been adequate feeding or toxicological trials on GM food.

Regulators, governments and the food industry have ignored multiple warnings from concerned scientists and continue to approve GM crops as if they are exactly the same as ordinary crops, or, as they put it substantially equivalent.

Many people support GM crops believing they are the only option for feeding the world. However science and farmers are showing us this is not true. A United Nations report released only last year said “Today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live — especially in unfavorable environments”. These sustainable farming methods have been shown to increase yields, farmer income and create healthy soils.

GM continues to be sold on the promises of increased yields and revolutionary solutions.  But GM crops produce no more than ordinary crops and have pest and weed problems. Why then does the industry defend the use of GM so passionately?

For one simple reason – because the patents provided for GM crops allow companies to make more money.

The CSIRO is also increasingly earning money from the patents it has developed. It has formed partnerships with GM companies like Monsanto and Bayer. “Commercial in confidence” means this data is virtually never published and work done by the CSIRO often becomes the property of their corporate partner. The restructuring of the CSIRO away from science for the greater good to business plans has created discord within the organisation. When the CSIRO is earning money from its patents and when it partners with the GM industry can it also act as an impartial scientific watchdog?

GM and patents have put food under the control of companies in a way never possible before. As Henry Kissinger once said – “control the food supply, and you control the people”.

I have studied the GM issue in depth and as a result am determined to do everything in my power to protect my family from GM wheat. I encourage you to do the same.