A Critique of Some Recent Articles on GE Wheat

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I’ve been getting Google Alerts on Genetically Modified Wheat like crazy in the last few days. Since the wheat groups announced their synchronization plans, and OCA and other groups came out against those plans, the issue has been building steadily.

Obviously, now would be the time for the industry experts to roll out with their lists of reasons why GM wheat is good for us and why we should be delighted to eat it. These folks are popping out of the woodwork right now, and here’s some examples of what they are saying.

Reuters recent article, GMO Wheat Acceptance Hinges on Public Benefit, quotes Meinolf Lindhauer from Germany’s Max Rubner federal research institute of nutrition and food:

“The majority of consumers in many European countries, not in all, do not accept GMO at all,” he said while attending the International Wheat Quality conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The only way for GMO wheat proponents to be heard above the arguments of anti-GMO groups is to demonstrate biotechnology could give consumers a “convincing advantage,” he said.

Hmm. What exactly does that mean? A convincing advantage? A convincing advantage over what? “Armed with our new, expanded genetically engineered food arsenal, we are unstoppable! GE foods give us a convincing advantage! ” This reminds me of Monty Python’s ad spoof for Crelm Toothpaste. Crelm Toothpaste with the miracle ingredient, frauduline.

At the very least this is typical nonsense-speak. At worst, it’s an outright lie. Now, I can see how from a certain perspective GM crops can seem advantageous to farmers. But if this man is trying to say that GE foods are advantageous to consumers I am at a loss when it comes to understanding how. Nutritionally? Cost-wise? What? I don’t get it.

Another interesting quote from the Reuters article:

Consumers support genetic modification to improve health, such as the production of drugs, but resistance is fixed on GMO food, Henry said.

Really. Consumers think that genetic modification is ok if it produces drugs, but not food. How do they know that consumers think this? I would venture that most American consumers have NO IDEA that genetic engineering can be used to produce drugs, or if they do know, they have little concept of the mechanics involved. I don’t think most consumers are aware of how most drugs are produced at all. They’re synthesized in a lab somewhere, aren’t they? Why, yes, yes they are, sometimes with the aid of genetic modification to creatures like goats, or crops like rice and corn. I guess I’m trying to say that if the above statement is actually correct, and consumers do support GE drugs, I don’t think consumers are making an informed choice. (It is however, always gratifying to hear that people don’t like the idea of genetically modified food. But we knew that.)

Ok, here’s another good one, this time from The Canadian Press’s article, Debate on Growing GM Wheat Rises Again, but Experts Say Issues are the Same. They’ve got Doug Robertson, president of the Grain Growers of Canada saying that he thinks wheat could be genetically modified to make it friendly to people with celiac disease. The Reuter’s article mentions this too. Apparently our friend Meinolf Lindhauer thinks that this is also a possibility.

Guys, that sounds really great, but most GE crops on the market right now are made to be pesticide resistant. Specifically glyphosate resistant. Which means it’s all about helping Monsanto sell more Roundup. Maybe you guys didn’t get the memo from your corporate masters. You’re not really in this business to help the folks with celiac disease. It sounds nice, but doesn’t seem super likely.

To wrap up, from DiscoverMooseJaw.com:

Wheat Growers Association Executive Director Blair Rutter says farmers deserve to have a choice. He says producers would not be forced to grow GM wheat if it was introduced. Rutter says a ban is unjustified as he argues there has never been a proven health or safety risk associated with Genetically Modified wheat.

And from SaskatoonHomepage.ca:

Genetically modified wheat is the way to go . . . according to the president of the seventh largest milling company in the United States.

Donald Mennel supports efforts to try and introduce GM wheat into the market place.   Currently, farmers can’t seed GM wheat . . . but they plant genetically modified canola, corn and soybeans.  

Mennel says wheat is falling behind the other crops when it comes to yields.   He’s worried that wheat will become a ”backburner crop” because it will be expensive to grow or be in limited supply.

Boy, there sure are a lot of these guys, and they’re so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, gearing up for what seems like a pretty big push, full of fun “facts” about how great GMOs are, and GE wheat, especially. Then there are the rest of us, who don’t want it, and never did, facing the continued adulteration of our food supply. Let’s call them on their bogus claims and  false facts, their scaremongering about GMOs being needed to feed to world. We need to fight this one.

Voice your opposition to the Wheat Industry’s push for GM wheat commercialization. Contact the President and your representatives now! Click here to take action.   By Honor Schauland
Organic Consumers Association, June 9, 2009
Straight to the Source

Editor’s Note: Learn more about Genetically Engineered Wheat and Take Action in the Organic Consumers Association’s GE Wheat Campaign Center.

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