News Stories

GM Wheat is Next

We've warned you before that there may be funny bread in your future. While GM Starlink corn hasn't made anyone sick, it has been a disaster for organic farmers and for countries like Mexico that count on indigenous corn varieties. Next up (after many delays: GM Wheat.

Genetically modified wheat hasn't yet been introduced into the U.S. market. When that happens, public acceptance of the product may depend on what people know about it. Currently, they don't know much, but when provided information about opposition to GM products, respondents say they are likely to refrain from buying them. Despite this, researcher Sean Fox says, "GM wheat has been on hold for a few years, but I think it's eventually going to be a reality."

Among all the households Fox polled, 68% said they would purchase GM wheat-based products, although 67% percent of the households indicated they had not heard about GM processing or knew little about it. The respondents were given the opportunity to decide whether they would pay more to buy a non-GM version of a wheat-based product, and 72% said they would not. But the households who received the survey containing the statement about opposition to GM products were less likely to accept GM-processed wheat products and were willing to pay an additional 12 cents a loaf of bread to avoid GM wheat. Fox says, "Providing them with information about opposition made them more likely, or increased their willingness to pay, to avoid it."

Telling consumers that many wheat products already contain some GM ingredients didn't affect their decision whether or not to purchase those products, regardless of whether they were told about the opposition to GM. Fox admits that "it's probably difficult to find food products that don't contain some GM ingredients. Not a lot of people are aware of that. But telling them that didn't make a lot of difference. It really didn't enhance their acceptance of GM wheat. But the overall acceptance was pretty high."

Under current US regulations, it isn't necessary for product labels to indicate if the ingredients are genetically modified. If GM wheat goes on the market and into bread, that fact won't need to be noted on the label unless federal regulations change. "Most bread right now contains some GM ingredients because it contains soy oil or soy flour," Fox says. "It doesn't have to be labeled." But some people know the secret to making sure those fruits and vegetables are organic!

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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