Speaking of GM food

November 2010

I didn’t get a chance to speak to Dr Higgins that night but I did speak, along with Dr Stapper, Robert Marchetti executive chef at Icebergs and the North Bondi Italian Food, Peter Gilmore chef at Quay, Michael Klausen of Brasserie Bread and Claire Parfitt of Greenpeace, at a Greenpeace function to launch the report Spliced Bread: the Threat of Genetically Engineered Wheat in Australia.

I wish I’d had the chance to talk to Dr Higgins because I’d love to know the reason why we’re going to test genetically modified wheat crops in Australia after both Canada and America rejected such tests in 2003. Their reason was very simple. All of their export wheat customers said if you do plant GM wheat, we won’t buy any of your wheat ever again. That stopped them. But the threat of losing $6.9 billion dollars of wheat exports doesn’t seem to have deterred the CSIRO and their biotech partners from going ahead with the trials here.

I’d also love to have asked Dr Higgins how GM food will help feed the world, which, along with drought-proofing crops, is one of the major claims of the proponents of GM food, foremost among them the charming American company Monsanto, which also brought us such wonderful chemicals as Agent Orange and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and not forgetting DDT.

It has always struck me as a little odd that selling expensive seed (farmers have to buy their GM seed every year under contract) that cannot be saved and that has never been adequately or independently tested for human consumption to peasant farmers to allow them to use as much of an expensive herbicide (RoundUp, also made by Monsanto) as they can afford does not seem to me like much of a strategy for solving the problems of the world food shortage.

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