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Real Bread Campaign mounts anti-GM wheat pledge

2 commentsBy Oliver Nieburg , 19-Apr-2012
Last updated on 19-Apr-2012 at 17:30 GMT

The Real Bread Campaign has mounted an anti-GM wheat pledge in protest over genetically modified wheat trials by a research institute in the UK.

Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire is to begin field testing a GM wheat over the next two years which is modified to repel aphids, plant lice that can destroy wheat.

The Real Bread Campaign fears the GM wheat could be commercialised for food use. It claims that GM wheat presents a risk to non-GM crops and contends that aphids can be controlled naturally.

Today the Campaign, along with GM Freeze and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union submitted an anti-GM wheat pledge to the UK’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) signed by over 350 bakers, millers, farmers and consumers.

Risk to non-GM crops

Rothamsted Research developed a genetically modified version of the wheat variety Candenza that produces a chemical compound to ward off aphids.

The Real Bread Campaign's Chris Young told BakeryAndSnacks.com: "We believe that at best aphids will simply end up on the crops of the poor farmers neighbouring those growing this purposefully mutated new strain of wheat.

"Worse could be the contamination of the food of people ethically opposed to GMOs, and the potential negative impact on human health and environment, as we have seen this week in the Portland State University study reporting a particular GM corn's effect on the overall health of soil ecosystems."

Letter to Defra

In a letter to Caroline Spelman MP, Secretary of State for Defra, the Real Bread Campaign et al said: “The existence of viable methods to ensure that aphids do not damage wheat yields means that it is unnecessary to take risks to the environment and health which are inherent in GM technology."

“The presence of GM wheat in fields and the food chain will almost certainly lead to contamination of non-GM wheat and impose unnecessary additional costs on farmers who grow wheat and companies who use it for food or feed. “

The letter warned that manufacturers could suffer income loss and reputational damage should their GMO-free products be contaminated with a GM crop.

”Such contamination could result in costly legal actions by those who have been damaged by the presence of GM wheat as has happened following GM rice contamination in the US,” continued the letter.

It said that it would take extensive long-term trials to determine whether GM wheat was safe and did not taint non-GM crops.

Natural pest control

The Real Bread Campaign says that aphids can be controlled naturally by providing suitable habitats for aphid predetors in nearby fields.

It argues that the money spent on GM wheat research should be withdrawn and should instead go towards developing natural ways to protect crops from aphids.

Signatories to the Real Bread Campaign letter have pledged not to buy GM wheat or use it for their businesses.

2 comments (Comments are now closed)

Reality and the Real Bread Campaign

The Real Bread Campaign, as so often with such campaigning groups, is really wrong about GM which poses no tangible danger to other crops, to peoples’ health or to “the environment”. They and their friends are hoist with their own petard. Having foolishly decided for commercial reasons that not a trace of GM must touch so-called “organic” production for fear that the magic label of approval with be withheld, the opponents of GM are naturally worried that there will indeed be comingling. That matters not a whit to anyone other than those wishing to preserve the fictitious benefits of “organic” products although, without a blink, they have for years happily embraced the untested products of mutagenesis breeding which makes use of high-energy radiation and carcinogenic chemicals generating unknown genetic modification of the plant genomes.

GM technology works very well for some situations as we have witnessed over the past fifteen years or more. It may not work for all. Like all technologies since the dawn of time and the invention of flint knives and of the wheel, GM needs to be properly managed. So, of course, does “organic”; one way of improving efficiency and lowering prices in that activity would be to make the best use of the opportunities GM offers to reduce losses, increase yield and avoid some of the very nasty pesticides which “organic” farmers are allowed to employ, including rotenone and copper sulphate.

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Posted by Valentine Dyall
20 April 2012 | 13h43

It is not a commercial product

I have been following this story. My understanding is the scientists at Rothamsted Research are conducting a scientific experiment and not making a commercial product. It says on their website that this experiment is “not for commercial gain” and they are “not a commercial organisation”.

The point of scientific experimentation is to add knowledge for future generations to make their own choices. Who are we to deny people knowledge. It is scientific knowledge that brought us improved wheat varieties for bread making.

We are all jumping the gun here. The experiment may not even work. It is therefore a long way off ever being a commercial product you could buy.

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Posted by Speak Sense
20 April 2012 | 10h13

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