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RISK ASSESSMENT & APPROVAL: CSIRO GM crop attacked by Greenpeace had “negligible” risk



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   CSIRO GM CROP ATTACKED BY GREENPEACE HAD ?NEGLIGIBLE? RISK

SOURCE:  Australian Life Scientist, Australia

AUTHOR:  Tim Dean

URL:     http://www.lifescientist.com.au/article/393593/csiro_gm_crop_attacked_by_greenpeace_had_negligible_risk/

DATE:    14.07.2011

SUMMARY: "The crop of genetically modified wheat destroyed by Greenpeace activists in Canberra today was rated by the federal government regulator of genetically modified organisms as posing a ?negligible? risk to either people or the environment. This is in contrast to Greenpeace?s claims that the crop consisted of ?untested and potentially unstable GM organisms?. The crop was part of a CSIRO study of wheat and barley genetically modified to suppress the function of endogenous genes resulting in an altered starch compositions."

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CSIRO GM CROP ATTACKED BY GREENPEACE HAD ?NEGLIGIBLE? RISK

The crop of genetically modified wheat destroyed by Greenpeace activists in Canberra today was rated by the federal government regulator of genetically modified organisms as posing a ?negligible? risk to either people or the environment.

This is in contrast to Greenpeace?s claims that the crop consisted of ?untested and potentially unstable GM organisms?.

The crop was part of a CSIRO study of wheat and barley genetically modified to suppress the function of endogenous genes resulting in an altered starch compositions.

The intention was to produce a grain with higher starch content which would contribute to greater dietary fibre intake, thus improving nutrition and digestive bowel health.

Once the crop was harvested it was to be fed to rats and pigs in controlled laboratory experiments to determine whether the altered grains do, in fact, possess different nutritional properties.

It was also to be fed to a small group of volunteers as part of a controlled nutritional study. However, no material from the trial was to enter the commercial food or feed supply chain.

Before the study took place a risk assessment was undertaken by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, which is tasked with protecting ?the health and safety of people, and the environment, by identifying risks posed by or as a result of gene technology, and by managing those risks through regulating certain dealings with genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?, in accordance with the Gene Technology Act 2000.

The OGTR found that the ?limited and controlled release do not pose significant risk to either people or the environment.?

Three Greenpeace activists, wearing hazard suits, razed the crop using whipper snippers in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Greenpeace claims

Greenpeace claims the crop was to be used in ?the world?s first human feeding trials of GM wheat, without adequate safety testing.?

However, the OGTR is required to approve of any testing of GMOs and, as such, it would have undergone scrutiny and monitoring by the independent regulators.

According to a statement released by Greenpeace, GM wheat is ?not safe?.

?This GM wheat should never have left the lab,? said Heather McCabe, one of the activists involved in destroying the crop.

?I?m sick of being treated like a dumb mum who doesn?t understand the science. As far as I?m concerned, my family?s health is just too important. GM wheat is not safe, and if the government can?t protect the safety of my family, then I will.?

However, the study on the GM wheat was to test the safety and nutritional value of the GMO. If such studies are continually disrupted it is impossible for GMOs to be demonstrated as either safe or unsafe.

Greenpeace food campaigner, Laura Kelly, also claimed that ?GM has never been proven safe to eat and once released in open experiments, it will contaminate.?

However, GM foods have been on sale in several countries around the world, notably the United States, for over a decade with no confirmed cases of harm caused to any individual consuming them.

Greenpeace cited an open letter signed by eight international scientists and doctors that questioned the safety of the human trials to the conducted by the CSIRO.

However, none of the scientists are experts in the contemporary field of genetically modified organisms or their health effects, and some are actively involved environmental activism, political parties or the organic food movement.

Scientists speak out

Scientists have spoken out against the destruction of the GM crop and the disruption of an ongoing experiment.

?I am deeply disappointed at the news that Greenpeace has stooped so far in their desperate attempt to gain publicity for their campaign against genetically modified wheat,? said Professor Mark Tester, a plant scientist at the University of Adelaide. ?GM technology is not a magic bullet but it does offer new opportunities to improve the quality and quantity of wheat. Scientists are trying to reduce the environmental impacts of farming and so help farmers in the developing world and Australia,? he said.

?We have been modifying the genomes of plants for thousands of years using breeding technologies and continue to do so, giving them the properties that we desire. Previously we have been crossing plants and hoping for the best ? now we are able to selectively choose the genes that we want and discard the ones that we don?t.?

Dr Christopher Preston, Associate Professor in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine at the University of Adelaide, also spoke out against the action by Greenpeace.

?As an active scientist, I am appalled that a fellow scientist?s experiments have been destroyed through this action,? he said.

?I would be extremely upset if a member of the public had knowingly interfered with and destroyed some of my own scientific research that aims to improve the sustainability of Australian farmers.

?The destroyed trial was a small research trial that had been approved after assessment by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR). The OGTR had assessed the trial to offer no significant threat to human health or the environment.?

The CSIRO has information on its website about gene technology and genetically modified organisms.

http://www.csiro.au/resources/Gene-technology.html



                                  PART 2

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   CSIRO APPALLED BY ATTACK ON GM TRIAL

SOURCE:  Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia (ABC)

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/201107/s3270197.htm

DATE:    15.07.2011

SUMMARY: "The CSIRO says deliberate damage to a genetically modified wheat trial was so bad it will probably have to abandon this year?s plantings. [...] CSIRO chief of plant industries, Dr Jeremy Burton, says he and his researchers are appalled by the attack. ?They like me would be extremely disappointed that something like this could happen in Australia,? he said."

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CSIRO APPALLED BY ATTACK ON GM TRIAL

The CSIRO says deliberate damage to a genetically modified wheat trial was so bad it will probably have to abandon this year?s plantings. Police are still investigating suspected sabotage of the CSIRO trial in Canberra. Yesterday, Greenpeace anti-GM activists claimed to have broken into the site and cut down the entire wheat crop with whipper snippers. CSIRO chief of plant industries, Dr Jeremy Burton, says he and his researchers are appalled by the attack. ?They like me would be extremely disappointed that something like this could happen in Australia,? he said. ?I think it?s a sad day. ?Differences of opinion are fine, but if it comes to this sort of action, it does seem to be unnecessary, really.?



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   FARMERS CALL FOR END TO CSIRO GENETICALLY MODIFIED WHEAT TRIALS

SOURCE:  Herald Sun, Australia

AUTHOR:  Australian Associated Press, Australia

URL:     http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/farmers-call-for-end-to-csiro-genetically-modified-wheat-trials/story-e6frf7kf-1226095420801

DATE:    15.07.2011

SUMMARY: "A farmers group has urged the federal government to put an end to CSIRO trials of genetically modified wheat. The Network of Concerned Farmers today also called for an ?independent analysis of the threat posed by GM wheat to our multi-billion dollar wheat exports?. [...] The Network of Concerned Farmers urged consumers to oppose the GM industry?s push into Australia and ?reject underhand deals favouring the GM industry?."

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FARMERS CALL FOR END TO CSIRO GENETICALLY MODIFIED WHEAT TRIALS

A farmers group has urged the federal government to put an end to CSIRO trials of genetically modified wheat.

The Network of Concerned Farmers today also called for an ?independent analysis of the threat posed by GM wheat to our multi-billion dollar wheat exports?.

The call comes a day after Greenpeace activists destroyed a trial GM wheat crop at the CSIRO experimental crop station in Canberra.

The CSIRO is carrying out a study of feeding ACT-grown GM wheat to rats and pigs and could extend the trial to humans.

The modified wheat has been altered to lower its glycaemic index in an attempt to see if the grain could have health benefits such as improving blood glucose levels and lowering cholesterol.

The Network of Concerned Farmers urged consumers to oppose the GM industry?s push into Australia and ?reject underhand deals favouring the GM industry?.

?Australian farmers and consumers need to be very concerned about trials of GM wheat planned by CSIRO,? Victorian farmer Bob Mackley said in a statement.

The GM industry?s inability to avoid contamination of non-GM grain and crops had been widely demonstrated, he added.

The network said the Gillard government should put an end to open field trials of GM wheat.

Farmer protection legislation should also be introduced to stop traditional farmers being held liable for GM contamination of their crops, it added.



                                  PART 4

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   DAIRY INDUSTRY SEEKS MORE DEBATE ABOUT GM PRODUCE

SOURCE:  Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia (ABC)

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/201107/s3270135.htm

DATE:    15.07.2011

SUMMARY: "The pros and cons of genetically modified crops are being tackled in a new way by the dairy sector. [...] Dairy Australia?s Dr Julie Iommi says potential GM benefits are lost on consumers if they can?t be given a personal reason to support new science. ?Genetic modification links to the whole question about how are we going to feed the world,? she said."

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DAIRY INDUSTRY SEEKS MORE DEBATE ABOUT GM PRODUCE

The pros and cons of genetically modified crops are being tackled in a new way by the dairy sector. The dairy industry?s R and D body says it?s working nationally on better understanding and engaging in consumer debates about everything from food safety to animal welfare. Dairy Australia?s Dr Julie Iommi says potential GM benefits are lost on consumers if they can?t be given a personal reason to support new science. ?Genetic modification links to the whole question about how are we going to feed the world,? she said. ?(There are) some great technologies coming down the pipe, but are they acceptable to the public? Because consumers are not interested in benefits for farmers or benefits for industry, they want to know about benefits for themselves.