June 2, 2009

Farmers Opposed To GMO Wheat

Farm and environment factions against the genetic modification of wheat are opposing other farm organizations for allowing biotech companies to commercially increase their output.

Fifteen groups in Canada, the U.S. and Australia said in a statement that they opposed GMO wheat. This statement, released on Monday, came after the May 14 calls to arms from GM wheat supporters for the coordinated creation of GM wheat.

"Genetic engineering for wheat would be a calamity for all wheat farmers," insists Julie Newman, a member of the Network of Concerned Farmers in Australia. "Consumers across the world have already rejected the idea of GE wheat."

Monsanto Co threw out an arrangement for herbicide-free GMO wheat in 2004 due to opposition from U.S. wheat buyers and the Canadian Wheat Board from a fear of a loss of overseas purchasers. Both European and Asian markets are very sensitive to questions raised over GM food.

The farm groups' worry that the loss of markets will affect prices for farmers, said Katherine Ozer, executive director of the National Family Farm Coalition.

"If (genetically engineered) wheat is released commercially, contamination would be inevitable and markets would view all wheat produced from these areas as GE unless proven to be non-GE," the groups wrote in their statement.

"Farmers growing GE wheat will take on all of the responsibilities, costs and liabilities, with little available legal recourse to recover their losses."

Groups that signed the statement include the National Farmers Union, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, the Organic Federation of Australia, Biological Farmers of Australia, Greenpeace and the U.S.-based Organic Consumers Association.

Farmers backing GMO wheat insist that genetic engineering would allow wheat continue being competitive with other staple crops such as corn, soybeans and canola.

However, those opposed to GMO insist that unlike GMO crops grown specifically for feed, oil and fiber, wheat is used for food and would be the focus of labeling rules in several countries.


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