ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

6 March 2003


Below are EXCERPTS and some great quotes from the final script for "Slice of Life", a new 20 minute video from Greenpeace video on GM wheat. To find out more, please contact Martin Atkin at GP <>

some of the QUOTES on GM wheat used in the video:

"It is critical [that] customers perceive the bakery's bread as being GM-free" Warburton's (UK)

"Personally, I don't think Roundup Ready offers a lot to consumers." Alex Waugh, National Association of British & Irish Millers.

"GMO wheat will for sure be a market destructor" Andre & Cie (Belgium)

"If you do grow genetically modified wheat, we will not be able to buy any of your wheat - neither the GM nor the conventional."  Rank Hovis McDougall (UK)

"Flour millers strongly doubt that... GM wheat or even conventional wheat that may contain GM wheat will be acceptable to the Japanese market." Japan Flour Millers Associaton

"The European milling industry will simply not buy one more kilo of US wheat at all if Roundup Ready wheat is commercialised." Grandi Molini (Italy)

"We will not do anything to erode consumer confidence" General Mills (UK)

"Give us Roundup Ready bread? I don‚t think so." US Wheat Associates


Every day, four and a half billion people eat food made from wheat. It‚s the biggest single source of food in the world.

Nearly one hundred billion US dollars worth of wheat is grown, bought and sold every year. The amount of land given over to wheat production far outstrips other major crops such as rice and corn.

The US government's own figures show that global wheat production is increasing by ten million tons per year.

It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of wheat to so many people in so many different cultures. China - traditionally considered to be a rice-eating society - actually tops the global league tables of both wheat production and consumption.

...So who would put at risk the wheat that billions depend on for their daily food?

Who would jeopardise the livelihoods of thousands of North American wheat farmers?

Who puts money before food and environmental safety?

And who, against all the evidence to the contrary, is trying to convince farmers there's a market for genetically engineered wheat?

Monsanto. That's who.

Genetically engineered foods could pose problems for  human health. Experts are concerned about the possibility of antibiotic resistance, the creation of toxins and nutritional changes.

In the case of GE wheat,  health risks could potentially be far greater because of the vast number of people who eat it in their daily diet.

These huge greenhouse complexes in Saint Louis, Missouri, contain some of the most closely-guarded secrets in the biotech industry.

Monsanto has spent more than a decade and tens of millions of dollars developing their Roundup Ready variety of genetically engineered wheat. The company is so proud of Roundup Ready wheat that they won‚t disclose the location of field trials. So secretive that they refused to be interviewed about it for this film.

Perhaps not so surprising, given the dubious track-record of other GE crops like soybeans, corn and canola.

It might not be long before that genie is out of the bottle. Monsanto has recently filed for regulatory approval for Roundup Ready wheat in both the US and Canada.

If that approval is granted, genetically engineered wheat could be growing commercially in North America in just two or three years.

European consumers have already made their feelings felt about genetically engineered food. Millers, supermarkets and food manufacturers recognise this and maintain a strict ban on any GM ingredients.

But don‚t just take our word for it. Research from the Canadian Wheat Board shows that two-thirds of their customers reject genetically engineered wheat. For some specific varieties the figure rises to eighty per cent. Even the Canadian and US markets themselves ˆ traditionally in favour of GE food ˆ won‚t buy it. Flour millers and food producers all over the world are queueing up to say no to GE wheat. Their message to Canadian and US farmers is quite clear: if you grow Roundup Ready wheat, we‚ll go elsewhere for our supplies.

QUOTES [see "market destructor " quotes above]

You've got to hand it to Monsanto - even in the face of such worldwide opposition they‚re still trying to persuade farmers that Roundup Ready wheat is the way forward.

The company‚s PR machine spins the line that they won‚t push GE wheat until they‚re sure the markets want it. But they don‚t sound too convincing.

"We acknowledge that trade is a vital component of North American agriculture." - Sally Metz, Monsanto Director of Wheat Technology

"Wheat is a highly scrutinised crop because much of it ends up on grocery shelves in the form of bread products*we‚re never going to sell a seed of biotech grain until we know we have the demand." - Michael Doane, Monsanto Industry Affairs Manager.

For organic farmers in North America, the introduction of Roundup Ready wheat would spell disaster. They‚re already reeling from contamination by other GE crops ˆ notably canola, soya and corn.

The tiniest trace of Roundup Ready wheat would be enough to make an organic miller or baker look for alternative supplies.

That‚s bad news for organic farmers in Canada who‚re worried about the effects of GE crops. Many are already facing major financial problems because of contamination from GE canola. The Saskatchewan Organic Directorate is suing Monsanto - and fellow biotech giants Aventis - for the loss of fourteen million dollars worth of organic canola. The lawsuit also claims that organic wheat exports - valued at one hundred and seventy million dollars - will be wiped out if Roundup Ready gets the go ahead.

And it's not just organic farmers who will lose out if Roundup Ready wheat is grown commercially. Conventional wheat farmers are also worried.

Of course, loss of export markets is only one problem farmers will have to face if genetically engineered wheat gets the go-ahead. Like other Monsanto crops, Roundup Ready wheat will bring a whole host of other problems with it. Already farmers throughout North America are embroiled in lawsuits with Monsanto over GE soybeans, corn and canola. Experts predict the consequences of GM wheat will be even worse.

North American farmers are used to fighting their own battles ˆ against drought, disease, poverty and bureaucracy. Now they‚re gearing up for what could be the biggest fight of all.

It‚s not just about a new genetically engineered crop. It‚s not just about  farmers being able to sow, harvest and sell their own wheat without interference.

It‚s about the right of all of us to eat good quality, uncontaminated food without worrying what might be in it. It‚s about the bread of life.

End Credits:

Thanks to
Prelinger Archive
Associated British Foods
Dakota Resource Council
Saskatchewan organic Directorate

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