GM wheat lobby at it again
But then, even Monsanto admitted to Farmers Weekly a while back that non-GM breeding was the best way forward with wheat: "Biotechnology rather than genetic modification is the key to improving wheat varieties, says Monsanto. Although GM techniques may develop some traits, most will stem from conventional breeding backed by sophisticated biotech tools." (Wheat future is in bio-tech not GM - breeder)
And Monsanto manager Jeff Cox told Farmers Weekly on another occasion: "We have lots of... [non-GM] tools to accelerate the development of new wheat varieties. It's a numbers game and ultimately non-transformation [ie non-GM] biotech offers the greatest potential."
And as we've noted before, the growing acreage going to corn and soy, as against wheat, is not due to GM varieties, as keeps being suggested, but has been driven by the damaging subsidised "biofuels" boom, which has driven up prices for corn and soy, and the popularity of these crops for food processing and animal feed.
And when it comes to the supposed promise of "drought resistance, gluten-free and nitrogen efficient variety development", GM has failed to bring a single crop to market with any of these traits, although non-GM drought resistant crops have already been developed.
But with former Monsanto Vice President Roger Beachy soon to head up USDA research, it's a safe bet where the funding will be going. In reality, of course, we need research on agriculture that actually works, is not hyper expensive, is socially acceptable, and is not environmentally damaging. Oh, and has a market among consumers... ie not GM!
But reality has little appeal for lobbyists busy inflating the GM bubble.
Biotech wheat gains supporters
AgriNews, 22 September 2009
FARGO, N.D. -- Biotech wheat development got a boost last week when producers, millers and bakers released an eight-page paper supporting the research.
The paper says biotechnology has the potential to help reverse the loss of wheat acres in the United States and "ensure adequate supplies to feed a hungry world."
There has been a change in opinion on biotech wheat over the last few years, said National Wheat Growers Association secretary-treasurer Erik Younggren.
"The bakers have realized that we have to have a stable, safe supply of wheat," he said. "When we talk about biotech, we are talking drought resistance, gluten-free and nitrogen efficient variety development."
Younggren made the comments following his participation in an agricultural policy roundtable at Big Iron in Fargo, N.D.
The United States is not alone in supporting biotech development, said the Hallock farmer. Australia and Canada have joined American wheat producers in an effort to move forward on the research and variety development.
Announcing support for biotech development is one thing, but, in the United States, the wheat industry is also seeking clearance with other countries that import U.S. wheat so markets will be there to accept the commodity.
It all takes time, Younggren said. Although biotech wheat field trials are underway, He does not expect varieties to be released for another decade.
The industry paper in support of biotech wheat emphasizes there is "no silver bullet to the competitiveness problem." It does conclude that the rapid adoption of biotechnology traits in other crops produced around the world and grower testimonials in support of the traits lends credence to the idea that biotechnology can make significant contributions.
Industry leaders hope the development will lead to greater wheat supplies. The number of wheat acres has been declining for the last three decades, the national announcement said. Yield and net returns per acre for wheat have consistently lagged behind corn and soybeans.
The corn belt has moved further west into traditional wheat growing states such as Kansas and North Dakota, said Younggren. Corn and soybeans have displaced wheat especially has researchers continue to develop hardier shorter-season corn varieties to fit northern climates.
Wheat association leaders have set a goal to increase wheat acres by 20 percent in the next decade. It's hoped biotech varieties will help the industry meet that goal.
Organizations working together on the industry-backed paper on biotechnology includes the National Association of Wheat Growers, U.S. Wheat Associates, the North American Millers' Association, the Independent Bakers Association and the Wheat Foods Council.