Canadian Farmers Are Highly Critical Of Genetically Modified Wheat

ISIS Press Release 25/06/09

New Study Indicates That Canadian Farmers Are Highly Critical Of Genetically Modified Wheat, As Controversy Over This Crop Reignites

A new study on Canadian farmer perceptions toward genetically modified (GM) wheat - specifically Roundup Ready wheat (RRW)- has just been published in the international peer reviewed journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research. This scientific paper is being released just as the controversy over growing GM wheat is re-igniting. Unlike a recent industry-sponsored study conducted in the US, it shows that Canadian farmers are categorically opposed to RRW.

"Although GM wheat was initially abandoned in 2004, industry groups and their partners are now seeking its reintroduction, and our study on Canadian farmer attitudes toward Roundup Ready wheat is once again very timely", says Dr. Ian Mauro, the lead author of the paper written with Drs. Stéphane McLachlan and Rene Van Acker. Mauro, McLachlan and Van Acker are internationally recognized experts on GM crops and their socio-economic and environmental impacts.

This research is the first of its kind to include farmer knowledge in the a priori risk analysis of GM crops and, arguably, is the largest scale, independent-farmer-focused study on GM crops ever conducted. The study, which was initiated in 2004, evaluates farmer attitudes towards the benefits and risks of RRW using both quantitative and qualitative methods. It included responses from 1566 farmers across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and includes organic, conventional, and no-till farmers.

"In total, 83% of Canadian farmers disagreed that Roundup Ready wheat should have unconfined release into the environment", says McLachlan, adding that "although many respondents themselves used GM canola, the great majority felt that risks associated with RRW far outweighed any benefits".

Overall, 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 farmers surveyed were also very critical of government and industry attempts to commercialize RRW and felt that their important knowledge was missing from the debate", says Mauro. He concluded by saying, "Farmer experiences and concerns should play an important role in shaping any future decision-making regarding this controversial crop".

The study is one of few that is located in farmer experiences and that is independent and publicly funded. It should have a substantial impact on the ongoing controversy surrounding GM wheat, and will certainly be of interest to farm organizations, other researchers, industry, and policymakers around the world. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Manitoba Rural Adaptations Council (MRAC) supported this research.

If you require more information, a copy of the paper or an interview, please contact Ian Mauro directly: ianmauro@uvic.ca and 204-979-4958

The peer-reviewed study is available for download from the "online first" section of the journal's website

This article can be found on the I-SIS website at
http://www.i-sis.org.uk/GMWheatMauro2009.php

--------

GM Wheat rejected by 233 Consumer, Farmer Groups in 26 Countries

http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/February2010/09/c8060.html


Informant: Dorothee Krien



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