Update. Thursday, April 7, 2011: The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) issued a statement to clarify that it has no plans to research genetically modified (GM) wheat.
NRC now states: "GM wheat is not an objective of the NRC wheat program. We will be developing a number of tools that will be used to reduce the breeding cycle, increase yield and adapt to climate stresses. GM varieties are not contemplated at this time."
The statement was issued to CBAN in response to media stories of April 3 that reported on a leaked memo from the government research agency. "NRC has finally recognized what everyone but Monsanto understands: that GM wheat is unacceptable to farmers and consumers," said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
GM wheat is not grown or eaten anywhere in the world, it has never been on the market. In 2004, Monsanto withdrew requests for government approval of its herbicide tolerant GM wheat in Canada and the US because of widespread farmer and consumer protest in both countries, and around the world. However, Monsanto re-launched research into GM wheat in 2009 and the biotechnology industry is now engaged in a new public relations campaign in favour of GM wheat. Monsanto's new plans for GM wheat are, however, meeting the same strong objections that defeated the company's product in 2004. The Premier of Australia's largest wheat growing state recently panned GM wheat, and Japanese flour companies continue to say that they will refuse to process GM wheat. In early 2010, CBAN coordinated an effort that resulted in 233 groups from 26 countries restating their opposition to GM wheat.