AUSTRALIA¹S export wheat marketer AWB has lent cautious support to the GM wheat trials being conducted in Victoria, saying it supported research and development work into the development of varieties that could assist growers.
AWB has been loath to endorse any potential GM wheat cultivars in Australia due to concerns about market acceptance of the product.
Unlike GM canola, which has been produced in North America for some time, GM wheat has not been grown commercially anywhere else in the world, meaning the level of potential resistance to the product is unknown.
AWB spokesman Peter McBride said the company was in favour of trial work into new varieties.
Mr McBride said AWB supported development of agricultural biotechnology under controlled conditions because of the potential benefits to farmers and the environment.
However, he emphasised the need for strict control guidelines during the trial process.
Mr McBride said that AWB would provide stewardship services to farmers to help them in the application of agricultural biotechnology.
As part of preparing for the potential for life with GM crops, Mr McBride said the company was supportive of any plans to better the supply chain network to keep GM and non-GM products separate and to ensure there was no contamination that could endanger any many markets.
He said the company would continue to supply non-GM customers with non-GM wheat, even if GM wheat was grown commercially.
Along with this, he reassured consumers anxious about buying GM produce by accident.
³We will comply with all labelling requirements where genetically modified (GM) material is present in any product to enable informed consumer choice,² he said.