Friday, June 1, 2012
GM wheat journalists unquestioning and supine
By Lawrence Woodward
June 01, 2012
The Guardian carried an article by James Randerson on the 30th May entitled “The GM debate is growing up” saying that those people protesting against the Rothamsted GM wheat trial seemed to be “fanatical” whilst the scientists were full of “reason and openness”. It also highlighted the efforts of The Science Media Centre failing to mention that this authoritatively sounding body is little more than an industry lobbying agency.
I was sufficiently appalled by the article to risk the insult infested Guardian comment thread to post the following response:
James Randerson talks about the “reason and openness of the scientists”. I can accept media smart but “open” is another matter; mesmerising is nearer the mark because journalists seem to have been hypnotised into a state where they have been incapable of asking any penetrating questions and ignoring the inconsistencies in the Rothamsted statements.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
GM crop trials are needless and reckless
By Joanna Blythman
May 24, 2012
Canadian researchers have found traces of GM pesticide in 93 per cent of baby foetuses
This Sunday, exasperated farmers and citizens will travel to a field near Harpenden to uproot a crop of genetically modified wheat. They have been denounced in purple prose by pro-GM commentators, as science haters, “Nazi book burners” and vandals. But what else can concerned citizens do when the company conducting the GM wheat trial, Rothamsted Research, presses on recklessly with an open field experiment that has the potential to contaminate neighbouring farmers’ crops and trigger unpredictable impacts on other species?
Recent Swiss research shows that some GM wheat varieties can cross-pollinate with crops more than 2.75km away, and that in the field, they cross-pollinate six times more than conventional varieties. Yet in contamination incidents involving long-grain rice in the US and flax in Canada, GM companies refused to accept liability.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Human tests for GM wheat
By Peter Hemphill
The Weekly Times
February 29, 2012
Flour made from genetically modified wheat and barley may be trialled on humans
The human testing will be done under a program approved by the Office of Gene Technology Regulator.
But first, the GM product would be trialled on animals to see if it improves bowel health.
The Gene Technology Regulator approved a licence application from the CSIRO to grow 2.3 hectares of GM wheat and barley in the ACT each year between May this year and June 2017.
The grain varieties have been genetically modified for “altered grain composition, nutrient utilisation efficient, disease resistance or stress tolerance”.
The GM grain would not be used for commercial human food or animal feed, the OGTR said in its notice of decision.
A GTR spokeswoman said a human research ethics committee would be required to review and approve the human nutrition trials.
The latest application is the 13th for GM wheat. The first was in 2004.
The OGTG licence approval comes as China moves to restrict research, production and trade in GM products.
According to a draft law released by China’s State Council, “research, experiments, production, sales, imports and exports of the seeds of genetically modified grain should meet relevant national regulations, and no institution or individual should apply genetic modification technology to main grain breeds without authorisation”.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
GM wheat ‘waste of time’
By Gregor Heard
February 25, 2012
CANADIAN farmer Peter Eggers believes continued research into genetically modified (GM) wheat is a waste of time.
“There’s not a market in the world that has said it will accept GM wheat, so why are we wasting all this money?”
His compatriot Matt Gehl said the push towards GM reflected the desires of the seed companies rather than the growers.
“They are looking for things they can patent and make a profit from.”
Mr Gehl was concerned the recent swing back into GM wheat research would come at the expense of breeding conventional wheat varieties, and that there was too much reliance on the private breeding sector - which could then set the breeding agenda.
“It’s an old argument, but I’d love to see stronger public breeding sectors.
“I feel it has been a case of governments finding the easy areas to cut during the recent economic downturn, and unfortunately plant breeding is one of those areas, especially when you can point to private breeders and say they are doing the job.”
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Some Washington wheat farmers back labels for GM foods
By Shannon Dininny
January 26, 2012
YAKIMA, Wash. - Some Washington state wheat farmers have thrown their support behind legislation requiring labeling of genetically modified foods, giving food safety advocates fresh hope that lawmakers also will get behind the bill.
They haven’t been receptive to the idea in the past, and lawmakers at the national level and in more than a dozen states have rejected similar proposals in the past year.
But in an unusual pairing, a handful of Washington wheat farmers have joined so-called “foodies” to back the latest bill, fearing exports will be hurt if and when genetically modified wheat gains federal approval. The U.S. exports half of its wheat, and in Washington, the only bigger export is Boeing Co.’s airplanes.
Biotechnology giants Monsanto and Syngenta have announced plans to begin testing genetically modified wheat, though the product is likely a decade or more from being offered commercially.
Resistance from the European Union and Japan led Monsanto to abandon similar efforts in 2004. Pacific Rim countries haven’t historically been friendly to genetically modified products, and they remain the biggest buyers of Washington wheat.
“If we do nothing, we will be destroyed,” said Tom Stahl, a fourth-generation farmer in the small town of Waterville, Wash., about 100 miles east of Seattle. “We will lose our markets and that will be devastating for the eastern Washington economy.”