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GM Wheat to Adversely Affect U.S. Economy, Research Shows
(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2003)
A new study released October 30, 2003 by the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) shows that introduction of genetically modified (GM) wheat will adversely affect the U.S. wheat industry. The study, Market Risks of Genetically Modified Wheat: The potential impacts of GMO spring wheat introduction on U.S. wheat export markets and prices, prepared by leading grain market economist Dr. Robert Wisner of Iowa State University, predicts, “the commercial introduction of GM wheat in the next two to six years would result in a loss of 30 to 50% of U.S. export markets.”

Currently, about 40% of U.S. grown hard red spring wheat is exported for consumers in foreign countries, primarily Asian countries. A September 2002 U.S. Wheat Associates study indicates this primary consumer market for U.S. grown wheat is strongly against purchasing GM foods. “A large majority of foreign consumers and wheat buyers do not want GM wheat,” said Wisner. “Right or wrong, consumers are the driving force in countries where food labeling allows choice.” Wisner’s study further reports the grim future of U.S. wheat industry if GM is to be introduced. According to WORC, the study found:

- U.S. average hard red spring wheat prices would be forced down to feed-wheat price levels, approximately one-third lower than the average of recent years.
- Durum and white wheat exports and prices also would likely face substantial risk; other classes of wheat would face slightly lower risk.
- Loss of wheat export markets would lead to loss of wheat acreage; loss of revenue to industries supplying inputs to wheat producers; losses for other rural farm-related and non-farm businesses, local and state government tax revenues, and institutions supported by tax revenues; and diminished economic health of rural communities and state governments in the spring wheat belt.

“Dr. Wisner’s report confirms our worst fears,” said North Dakota Senator April Fairfield, who has worked in the last two legislatures to give North Dakotans a say in whether and how GM wheat should be released. “His research demonstrates that the introduction of GM hard red spring wheat will devastate our ability to export this high quality, high gluten wheat, reducing this valuable commodity to little more than livestock feed.”

"Our wheat customers in many nations and regions have told us directly that they will not purchase GM wheat and will go elsewhere to procure their wheat supplies,” said Todd Leake, a Grand Forks, North Dakota area wheat farmer speaking for the Dakota Resource Council. “In a world awash in cheap wheat, it’s not hard to find another country to gladly take that wheat business away from us.”

A July 2003 report from Great Britain also found little economic incentive to introduce GM to farmers. Amid strong public disfavor of GM, the UK government was forced to reconsider its plan to introduce the controversial crops. Read the August 26, 2003 edition of Daily News for more information.

For more information on genetically modified wheat, its regulatory history, and environmental, economic and health impacts, see http://www.worc.org/issues/art_issues/gmwheat.html. Beyond Pesticides’ Genetic Engineering Program Page provides resources of information, news, health and environmental effects of GM.