[genet-news] GMO-FREE PRODUCTS & SEEDS: Australian food industry slams genetically engineered wheat
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TITLE: FOOD INDUSTRY SLAMS GENETICALLY ENGINEERED WHEAT
SOURCE: Reportage, Australia
AUTHOR: Elise Dalley
SUMMARY: "Sydney foodies have voiced their opinion firmly against engineered food products, after Greenpeace launched their Spliced Bread report late last month about the threat of GE wheat in Australia. [...] Spokesperson from the Baking Industry Association of NSW and Director of Brasserie Breads, Michael Klausen, said the industry would keep the debate alive in order to get results. ?We have got to stand up and say that we do not accept that these things can happen and we do not accept it without the proper science behind it.?"
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FOOD INDUSTRY SLAMS GENETICALLY ENGINEERED WHEAT
The food industry will face widespread contamination and human health will be put at risk if trials for genetically engineered (GE) wheat are allowed out of laboratory conditions and into the field. Elise Dalley reports.
Sydney foodies have voiced their opinion firmly against engineered food products, after Greenpeace launched their Spliced Bread report late last month about the threat of GE wheat in Australia.
Executive chef at Sydney?s three-hatted Quay restaurant, Peter Gilmore, said interfering with the genetic structure of something as basic as wheat, is ?wrong on so many levels?.
The respected restaurateur and advocate of fresh food, whose often servces fresh produce grown on his Blue Mountains farm, said he was deeply concerned about the implications genetically modified wheat will have on producers and consumers who value a clean and unpolluted path from farm to fork.
?The problem I see with GE food is that it is going to contaminate all the farmers who produce their own organic food. When the genie is out of the bottle, it?s out of the bottle and that is a real worry when you want to give your customers food that hasn?t been genetically modified,? he said.
Author of the Spliced Bread report, Claire Parfitt, said the key danger in injecting foreign genes into a seed extended beyond market concerns and into the human health realm.
?Australia is the global testing ground for genetically engineered wheat,? she said.
?But human consumption tests haven?t been done. What we do know is that feeding trials with animals have shown negative results, including enlarged liver, higher levels of allergic reactions and reduced fertility.?
In July this year, the federal government approved over 1300 GE wheat trials across the country and a month later, Monsanto, the owner of 90 per cent of the world?s genetically modified wheat crop, purchased a 20 per cent share in Intergrain, Australia?s largest wheat company.
Co-author of the 2010 Foodies Guide to Sydney, John Newton, said ?the most instant, basic and nurturing of foods? and an ?incredibly important? part of our western culture was on the verge of containing the seed of destruction for our environment, health and industry.
?The export market will be severely damaged.?
?The Italians, Japanese, Korean and Chinese told the world they would not buy GE wheat. America rejects it, Canada rejects it and we embrace it ? I just don?t get it,? he said.
Research undertaken for the Spliced Bread report said commercial cultivation of GE crops ?means the unfettered release of GE organisms into the environment?, and once released, such organisms are physically impossible to contain, due to wind and particle movement among animals.
?GE seeds have the potential to have all Australian wheat genetically modified and I personally think this is what [Monsanto] want,? Newton said.
Such claims have been made because GE seeds are patentable and farmers facing contamination would legally have to pay for future seeds to allow any further development.
And even without a GE future, the market has been slammed into the dirt in recent years.
In a separate report released in late October by the Australian Food and Grocery Council and KPMG, food imports were found to have risen above exports and the last five years have seen the industry shift from a $4 billion dollar surplus to a $2 billion deficit.
Sustainable gardener and presenter of SBS?s Garden Odyssey, Costa Georgiadis, said people were not aware of the GM war that had been waged against nature and have no idea of the implications it could have not only on the economy, but also on our health.
Georgiadis said more emphasis needed to be placed on educating the general public about the best ways to consume ?fresh? food.
?If you grow something yourself, you realise things you put in your mouth are living and if you put chemicals in them, those chemicals end up in you.?
?We all are owed, as a right, chemical free food,? he said.
Bioagriculture and wheat agronomy scientist, Dr Maarten Stapper, agreed that people need more knowledge than what they get from ?the fresh food people?.
?Good food is what you can taste and still see where it comes from. When you can?t see where food comes from, we should leave it on the shelves.?
?The consumer has all the power in the world, because you decide who has the products and who loses,? Stapper said.
Spokesperson from the Baking Industry Association of NSW and Director of Brasserie Breads, Michael Klausen, said the industry would keep the debate alive in order to get results.
?We have got to stand up and say that we do not accept that these things can happen and we do not accept it without the proper science behind it.?
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