UPDATE: NRC clarifies no GMO wheat research in Canada

by David Fowler

According to the Calgary Herald, the National Research Council (NRC) plans to develop genetically modified wheat in Canada.  This stands at odds with the wishes of wheat growers.

The NRC says it is acting because Canada’s global market share is declining due to a lack of annual productivity. Growers have resisted the move saying GMO wheat is hard to market in Asia.

It’s hard to say what impact GMO wheat could have on those with Celiac and gluten sensitivity, but surely this is a significant development we’ll want to keep a close eye on.

Read the full article:   http://bit.ly/eZgVPu

As always, you can comment on this development using the comment feature below.

UPDATE April 7th:

I just received this update from CBAN, an anti-GMO group…

No GM Wheat research, says National Research Council.

Many people were rightfully alarmed to see media stories on April 3 reporting that the National Research Council was going to start research into GM wheat. The National Research Council has sent CBAN as statement to declare that they will NOT be pursuing GM Wheat research.

The reporter who wrote the story made assumptions that the type of research referred to in the memo was GM because of the language used, but the National Farmers Union and CBAN investigated and has secured a commitment that the NRC will not be researching GM Wheat. More information including the full statement from NRC is posted at http://www.cban.ca/wheat Please see below today’s press release. Please know that CBAN works with groups across Canada and around the world to monitor the industry push for GM Wheat. Thank you for your ongoing concern and action.


Canada’s National Research Council Disavows GM Wheat

Thursday, April 7, 2011. Yesterday, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) issued a statement to clarify that it has no plans to research genetically modified (GM) wheat.

NRC now states, “GM wheat is not an objective of the NRC wheat program. We will be developing a number of tools that will be used to reduce the breeding cycle, increase yield and adapt to climate stresses. GM varieties are not contemplated at this time.” The statement was issued in response to media stories of April 3 that reported on a leaked memo from the government research agency.

“NRC has finally recognized what everyone but Monsanto understands: that GM wheat is unacceptable to farmers and consumers,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

Genetically modified crops are created through recombinant DNA technology (also called genetic engineering or transgenics), introducing genes from other species.

In 2004, Monsanto withdrew requests for government approval of its herbicide tolerant GM wheat in Canada and the US because of widespread farmer and consumer protest in both countries, and around the world. However, Monsanto re-launched research into GM wheat in 2009 and the biotechnology industry is now engaged in a new public relations campaign in favour of GM wheat.

Monsanto’s new plans for GM wheat are, however, meeting the same strong objections that defeated the company’s product in 2004. The Premier of Australia’s largest wheat growing state recently panned GM wheat, and Japanese flour companies continue to say that they will refuse to process GM wheat. In early 2010, 233 groups from 26 countries restated their opposition to GM wheat.

“Wheat improvements can and must happen without the use of transgenics. GM wheat would spell disaster for Canada’s wheat growers, just as GM alfalfa now threatens farmers across the country,” said Terry Boehm, President of the National Farmers Union in Canada.

“The costs to farmers from the GM flax contamination fiasco would pale in comparison to what would happen if GM wheat was introduced,” said Arnold Taylor, a grain farmer with the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate. GM flax was developed with public funds through the University of Saskatchewan and registered in Canada over the objections of flax farmers who succeeded in removing the GM flax from the market in 2001. In late 2009, Canadian flax exports to 36 countries were found contaminated with the GM flax, resulting in shut markets and economic loses to farmers.