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POLICY & REGULATION: GM wheat a threat to farmers: Greenpeace



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   GM WHEAT A THREAT TO FARMERS: GREENPEACE

SOURCE:  The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

AUTHOR:  Australian Associated Press, Australia, by Chi Tranter

URL:     http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/gm-wheat-a-threat-to-farmers-greenpeace-20110707-1h3x5.html

DATE:    07.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Australian wheat farmers stand to lose billions of dollars if the CSIRO?s trials of genetically modified wheat are allowed to continue, Greenpeace says. A report by the environmental group accuses the government research organisation of ?serious oversights? when it comes to managing the risks of its field trials currently taking place across the country. ?The economic implications of GM wheat are dire,? Greenpeace spokeswoman Laura Kelly said in a statement on Thursday."

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GM WHEAT A THREAT TO FARMERS: GREENPEACE

Australian wheat farmers stand to lose billions of dollars if the CSIRO?s trials of genetically modified wheat are allowed to continue, Greenpeace says.

A report by the environmental group accuses the government research organisation of ?serious oversights? when it comes to managing the risks of its field trials currently taking place across the country.

?The economic implications of GM wheat are dire,? Greenpeace spokeswoman Laura Kelly said in a statement on Thursday.

Every one of Australia?s global wheat market competitors, including Canada and Europe, had rejected GM wheat, Ms Kelly said.

?They were not convinced by global biotech companies that it would not contaminate their natural wheat crops and threaten their billion-dollar export markets,? she said.

The CSIRO, however, says its research will benefit local farmers.

?Our number one priority is that Australian industry and farmers realise the benefits of our grains research first and foremost,? CSIRO spokesman Huw Morgan told AAP on Thursday.

?All GM wheat research conducted by the CSIRO has met the strict regulatory requirements that are set down by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator.?

CropLife, an industry group representing the plant science industry, said the Greenpeace report entitled Australia?s Wheat Scandal was a fiction.

?(It) misrepresents modern crop breeding so extensively that it should be regarded as nothing more than fiction,? Croplife CEO Matthew Cossey said in a statement.

?GM crops have demonstrated over the last 15 years that they improve the on-farm environment while reducing the pressure to convert wilderness areas to farmland.?

A former CSIRO scientist, who says he was sacked for questioning the safety of GM crops, said studies in the US had shown that yields for GM crops were no higher than those for ordinary crops in the long term.

?In controlled conditions in a laboratory you can get marvellous results ... but when theyput them in the field there is zero per cent difference because ... all the genes are expressing themselves and it?s complete competition,? Maarten Stapper told AAP on Thursday.

He said the CSIRO was under pressure from big biotech companies such as Monsanto to push ahead with GM crops.

?It?s the commercial interests ... that help develop all those GM crops because they can make money out of it,? Dr Stapper said.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   GM WHEAT REPORT ANGER

SOURCE:  Stock & Land, Australia

AUTHOR:  Colin Bettles

URL:     http://sl.farmonline.com.au/news/nationalrural/grains-and-cropping/general/gm-wheat-report-anger/2217721.aspx

DATE:    06.07.2011

SUMMARY: "A GREENPEACE report on genetically modified wheat, due to be released tomorrow, will ?irresponsibly create fear and undertake scaremongering?, critics say. Agrifood Awareness Australia chief executive Paula Fitzgerald said to those who did not have an understanding of the Australian grains industry the report on GM wheat would appear credible. [...] Greenpeace also failed to consult leading grower and industry groups during the document?s development, including the National Farmers Federation, Grain Producers Australia, Grain Growers Limited and the Grain Exporters Association. ?Nobody in the Australian grains industry knew about this before it appeared in the media on Monday,? one industry source said."

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GM WHEAT REPORT ANGER

A GREENPEACE report on genetically modified (GM) wheat, due to be released tomorrow, will ?irresponsibly create fear and undertake scaremongering?, critics say.

Agrifood Awareness Australia chief executive Paula Fitzgerald said to those who did not have an understanding of the Australian grains industry the report on GM wheat would appear credible.

However, she said it contained questionable claims, such as suggesting GM wheat would be available in 2015.

?This is their second attempt to irresponsibly create fear and undertake scaremongering about perfectly safe plant science and new crop varieties that are at least seven to 10 years away from the marketplace,? Ms Fitzgerald said.

The report also attempts to portray a negative view of work done by the CSIRO in biotechnology research, including new plants with health benefits.

?To suggest the organisation is engaging in unsafe science and not delivering public benefits to Australia is both false and mischievous,? she said.

?Australian farmers do not, and will not in the future, produce unsafe food.?

Industry members have also questioned why Greenpeace sent the report, titled Australia?s wheat scandal: The biotech takeover of our daily bread, to selected reporters, suggesting they had cherry-picked ?susceptible journalists? to increase the likelihood of favourable media coverage.

Rural Press journalists were not among those presented with the report.

Greenpeace also failed to consult leading grower and industry groups during the document?s development, including the National Farmers Federation, Grain Producers Australia, Grain Growers Limited and the Grain Exporters Association.

?Nobody in the Australian grains industry knew about this before it appeared in the media on Monday,? one industry source said.

?It?s fair to say the Australian grains industry was taken by surprise at this latest attempt by Greenpeace to disrupt the industry and take it backwards.?

National Farmers Federation President, Jock Laurie, said providing misleading information to city-centric audiences with limited industry knowledge was a ?regular tactic? of several organisations, ?as we have seen in the live export debate over the past month?.

?Unfortunately, we need to make sure that there is balanced commentary going out from all groups when it comes to these issues and they are not skewed one way or another,? he said.

Mr Laurie said the NFF believed any new technologies, like GM wheat, needed appropriate protocols in place.

?We need to make sure people have choices and if they choose to be organic they can be organic,? he said.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   GMO WHEAT STILL IN FUTURE, MONSANTO VP SAYS

SOURCE:  Capital Press, USA

AUTHOR:  Matthew Weaver

URL:     http://www.capitalpress.com/orewash/mw-Monsanto-execs-070811-art

DATE:    06.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Genetically modified wheat is still in the future, a top Monsanto official says. Scientists want to improve yield and stress capabilities in wheat, and are looking for the genes that will make it more drought tolerant or increase nitrogen use, Sam Eathington, Monsanto?s global plant breeding vice president, said. ?It?s all early phase,? Eathington told the Capital Press. ?It?s going to be a little while before we can get those products out into the industry. "

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GMO WHEAT STILL IN FUTURE, MONSANTO VP SAYS

OTHELLO, Wash. -- Genetically modified wheat is still in the future, a top Monsanto official says.

Scientists want to improve yield and stress capabilities in wheat, and are looking for the genes that will make it more drought tolerant or increase nitrogen use, Sam Eathington, Monsanto?s global plant breeding vice president, said.

?It?s all early phase,? Eathington told the Capital Press. ?It?s going to be a little while before we can get those products out into the industry. There?s still a lot of research and development that?s going to have to go on.?

Monsanto typically talks about genetically modified wheat occurring in the next decade, he said.

?We?ll continue to look at opportunities for specific insects or plant health,? he said. ?We evaluate every year what would be good targets and opportunities.?

Eathington said Monsanto is also working to bring non-GMO technology to the wheat-breeding process, setting up a double haploid process and using molecular markers to look at DNA to find disease resistance and increase efficiency. The work is similar to that already done on corn, soybeans and cotton.

Asked about other genetically modified crops on the heels of the releases of GMO alfalfa and sugarbeets, Eathington said new releases would likely be extensions of the lines of corn and cotton.

?Science will come along with opportunities,? he said. ?We need to figure out what best works and what doesn?t.?

Based in St. Louis, Mo., Eathington oversees breeding for seven row crops, including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, sugarcane and sorghum.

Monsanto has 136 locations worldwide for breeding and research.

Eathington spoke with the Capital Press during the grand opening of Monsanto?s new corn breeding facility near Othello, Wash.

He said the site is the company?s only corn-breeding facility in the U.S. Others are in Central and South America.

Humberto Gutierrez, Monsanto?s line development breeding lead for the northern United States, said the new building is a double haploid production facility.

The process allows the company to produce inbred lines of corn rapidly. Traditional processes require eight generations, but Monsanto can do it in a two-step process, Gutierrez said.

The Othello region drew Monsanto?s attention because of its optimum growing conditions and crop diversity, Gutierrez and site manager Brett Sowers said.

At a glance

The new Monsanto corn-breeding facility is 14,000 square feet and has 10,000 square feet of greenhouse space. They are on 48 acres and handle materials grown all over the U.S.

The plant has five full-time employees and several seasonal workers.

Monsanto relocated the program to Othello in 2007 from Hawaii.



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:   AUSTRALIA?S WHEAT SCANDAL

SOURCE:  Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Australia

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/en/news/food/GM-wheat-scandal/

DATE:    06.07.2011

SUMMARY: "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. [...] 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."

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AUSTRALIA?S WHEAT SCANDAL

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.

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 million 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.