There is no genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) wheat grown or eaten anywhere in the world. It has never been on the market.
The Canadian government lists six wheat herbicide-tolerant wheat varieties as approved “Plants with Novel Traits” but these are not the product of genetic engineering, these wheat varieties were created using chemically induced seed mutagenesis.
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 to try and create a climate favorable to the introduction 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 biotech industry is now focusing their efforts in Australia. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network will continue to monitor and campaign on this issue. In early 2010, CBAN coordinated an effort that resulted in 233 groups from 26 countries restating their opposition to GM wheat.
July 29, 2016: In the third such incident since 2013, the US Department of Agriculture has reported contamination from Monsanto’s genetically engineered Roundup Ready wheat, which is not approved or on the market in any country including the US. A farmer in Washington state discovered 22 plants in an unplanted field. A possible source for the contamination is the limited field trials in the Pacific Northwest from 1998 to 2001.
October 2015: The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing changes to requirements for field testing genetically engineered wheat. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate submitted comments. “The proposed plan to implement oversight of genetically engineered wheat field trials via permits is welcomed as a necessary step to minimize the risk of GE wheat contamination…Until such time that there is a moratorium on GE wheat field trials, there is a need for enforceable standards, active monitoring and testing to ensure compliance. All field trials need to be evaluated, inspected and monitored.”
Press Release – May 29, 2013: llegal GM Wheat Contamination Discovered in US: Contamination Status in Canada is Unknown
February 2012: Canadian farmers spoke in communities across Australia. Australians want to know why Canadian farmers, processors and citizens, worked so hard to keep out GM wheat. “As a young farmer, only recently returned to the farm, I have no desire to grow GE wheat, nor do I want my neighbors to grow it. Pollen flow, spillage and the many points where contamination can take place would make it impossible for me to grow GE free wheat. On every level it is a bad idea.” stated Matt Gehl, 27, who farms over 1600 hectares in Canada.
February 2012: “Genetically modified (GM) wheat … is still widely regarded as not acceptable for the foreseeable future.” stated the Grain Growers Ltd, leading industry body for the Australian grains industry. From the February 2012 report titled “What the World Wants from Australian Wheat” – an analysis of industry surveys and interviews with flour and stock feed manufacturers in Australia, South East Asia, North Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Over 80% of Australia’s export market (in value) will not buy GM wheat now, for the next five years, or in the foreseeable future.
April 7, 2011: Canada’s National Research Council Disavows GM Wheat. 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 to CBAN 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.
- Read the full press release: “Canada’s National Research Council Disavows GM Wheat”
- Read the full statement from the National Research Council
July 2011: Australia’s top scientific body, CSIRO, is conducting the world’s first human feeding trials of GM wheat. Scientists have already denounced the trials: “The feeding trials should not be conducted until long-term impact assessments have been undertaken and appropriate information released to enable the scientific community to determine the value of such research, as against the risks.” A Greenpeace report, Australia’s Wheat Scandal, detailed a major conflict of interest at CSIRO.
July 2010: Monsanto and BASF Plant Science are expanding joint research to develop GM wheat. They say they aim to commercialize a GM wheat in at least 10 years. The companies say they plan to “initially focus on developing biotech products for the North American and Australian markets.” The joint announcement comes on the heels of a separate plan announced by Syngenta and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in April to work toward biotech wheat
Farmer Rejection in Canada
- 69% of farmers are opposed to the introduction of GM wheat “at this time” according to a 2009 survey conducted by the Canadian Wheat Board.
- 83% of Canadian farmers disagreed that Roundup Ready wheat should be introduced according to a study started in 2004 and published in a peer reviewed article March 2009. Overall, the farmers ranked the risks of market loss, corporate control of the food supply, agronomic impact and contamination of non-GM crops much higher than any anticipated production benefits. The study: “Farmer knowledge and a priori risk analysis: pre-release evaluation of genetically modified Roundup Ready wheat across the Canadian prairies”, Ian J. Mauro & Stéphane M. McLachlan & Rene C. Van Acker, 20 March 2009, Environmental Science and Pollution Research.
GM Wheat Rejected Globally
233 Farmer and Consumer Groups from 26 Countries
A rejection statement was organized by CBAN in response to a 2009 pledge from industry groups in Canada, Australia and the US to “work toward the goal of synchronized commercialization of biotech traits in our wheat crops.” The statement reads:
“In light of our existing experience with genetic engineering, and recognizing the global consumer rejection of genetically engineered wheat, we restate our definitive opposition to GE wheat and our commitment to stopping the commercialization of GE traits in our wheat crops”
- List of groups who signed the definitive rejection statement and here is the full letter statement
- Press Release, February 2010
- Contact us to sign on
- 15 groups from Canada, Australia and the USA initiated the statement
Slovak Translation! Definitívne Globálny odmietnutie geneticky modifikované pšenica