Australian scientists are expressing
grave concerns over a new type of genetically engineered wheat
that may cause major health problems for people that consume it.
University of Canterbury Professor
Jack Heinemann announced the results of his genetic
research into the wheat, a type developed by Australia's
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization
at a press conference last month.
"What we found is that the
molecules created in this wheat, intended to silence wheat
genes, can match human genes, and through ingestion, these
molecules can enter human beings and potentially silence our
genes," Heinemann stated.
"The findings are absolutely
assured. There is no doubt that these matches exist."
Flinders University Professor
Judy Carman and
Safe Food Foundation Director
Scott Kinnear concurred with Heinemann's analysis.
"If this silences the same gene
in us that it silences in the wheat - well, children who are
born with this enzyme not working tend to die by the age of
about five," Carman said.
Digital Journal contacted
Heniemann and Kinnear for more information on their research and
future actions they may take regarding this issue.
"To date we have not heard from
CSIRO, nor are we aware that CSIRO has released any safety
studies into the GM wheat," Kinnear said in an email
"We are in the final stages of
drafting a formal letter to CSIRO which will be requesting
further information and asking for them to undertake the
studies that are recommended in
According to the researchers,
extended testing should be performed before the wheat is put on
"We firmly believe that long
term chronic toxicological feeding studies are required in
addition to the detailed requests made by Heinemann for the
DNA sequences used," Kinnear stated.
"The industry routinely does
feeding studies anyway, so it should not be too much more
difficult to do long term (lifetime) studies and include
inhalation studies," Heinemann added.
"These should be tuned to the
way people would be exposed to the product."
The researchers also cautioned
consumers against eating the wheat if it is approved
"I would advise citizens to
request that these tests be done and the evidence meet with
their standards of scientific rigor if in the end it is
approved for use," said Heinemann.
If the concerns surrounding CSIRO's
GM wheat are not resolved, the issue could end up in court,
according to Kinnear:
"If CSIRO was to consider moving
towards human feeding trials without conducting these
studies, we would be looking at what legal avenues are
available to stop them."