Calls to abandon a genetically modified wheat trial in Western Australia amid reports certain varieties could cause liver failure have been dismissed by the State Government as scaremongering.
New Zealand-based genetics lecturer Jack Heinemann has warned that if humans eat one of the CSIRO’s genetically modified wheat varieties, it could suppress glycogen production, leading to liver failure.
CSIRO said the claims had not been published in a peer-reviewed journal but would be considered by the organisation and regulatory bodies along with all other relevant research.
It was trialling both GM and non-GM versions of high amylose wheat, which had increased levels of resistant starch that could have positive benefits for bowel health and people with diabetes, CSIRO said.
Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that is not digested in the small intestine and travels into the large intestine, where it plays a key role in digestive function.
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, which was announced in 2010.
However, a spokesman for the State’s agriculture minister Terry Redman said the variety in question was not being trialled in WA.
Mr Redman said a trial of the variety in the ACT was not complete, so it was too early to say whether it was safe.
“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 ABC.