A GREENPEACE report on genetically modified (GM) wheat, due to be released tomorrow, will “irresponsibly create fear and undertake scaremongering”, critics say.
Agrifood Awareness Australia chief executive Paula Fitzgerald said to those who did not have an understanding of the Australian grains industry the report on GM wheat would appear credible.
However, she said it contained questionable claims, such as suggesting GM wheat would be available in 2015.
“This is their second attempt to irresponsibly create fear and undertake scaremongering about perfectly safe plant science and new crop varieties that are at least seven to 10 years away from the marketplace,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
The report also attempts to portray a negative view of work done by the CSIRO in biotechnology research, including new plants with health benefits.
“To suggest the organisation is engaging in unsafe science and not delivering public benefits to Australia is both false and mischievous,” she said.
“Australian farmers do not, and will not in the future, produce unsafe food.”
Industry members have also questioned why Greenpeace sent the report, titledAustralia’s wheat scandal: The biotech takeover of our daily bread, to selected reporters, suggesting they had cherry-picked “susceptible journalists” to increase the likelihood of favourable media coverage.
Rural Press journalists were not among those presented with the report.
Greenpeace also failed to consult leading grower and industry groups during the document’s development, including the National Farmers Federation, Grain Producers Australia, Grain Growers Limited and the Grain Exporters Association.
“Nobody in the Australian grains industry knew about this before it appeared in the media on Monday,” one industry source said.
“It’s fair to say the Australian grains industry was taken by surprise at this latest attempt by Greenpeace to disrupt the industry and take it backwards.”
National Farmers Federation President, Jock Laurie, said providing misleading information to city-centric audiences with limited industry knowledge was a “regular tactic” of several organisations, “as we have seen in the live export debate over the past month”.
“Unfortunately, we need to make sure that there is balanced commentary going out from all groups when it comes to these issues and they are not skewed one way or another,” he said.
Mr Laurie said the NFF believed any new technologies, like GM wheat, needed appropriate protocols in place.
“We need to make sure people have choices and if they choose to be organic they can be organic,” he said.