THE Western Australia government has dismissed opposition calls to abandon a genetically modified (GM) wheat trial in the light of health concerns as “scaremongering”.
Genetics lecturer Jack Heinemann, based in New Zealand, has claimed that eating one of the CSIRO's GM wheat varieties could lead to liver failure in humans, as it suppresses glycogen production.
CSIRO has trialled both GM and non-GM versions of high amylose wheat, which had increased levels of resistant starch that the organisation hopes could have positive benefits for bowel health and people with diabetes.
CSIRO said although the claims had not been published in a peer-reviewed journal they – and all other relevant research - would be considered by the organisation and regulatory bodies.
In the wake of the report, WA opposition agriculture spokesman Paul Papalia called on the Barnett government to abandon a trial of GM wheat in Merredin – however, a spokesman for WA agriculture minister Terry Redman said the variety in question was not being trialled in the state.
Mr Redman said it was too early to say whether the variety was safe as a trial in the ACT was not yet complete.
"To claim halfway through a trial, speculating in fact, that something's unsafe now is quite frankly too early to do so, and I think scaremongering,'' he told the ABC.