Wheat Groups Again Support Biotech Research, Future Commercialization

Australian, Canadian and U.S. farm and wheat organizations confirm commitment to future wheat biotech

Published on: Jun 6, 2014

More than a year after glyphosate-resistant wheat was found growing on an Oregon farm, sixteen farm and wheat organizations in Australia, Canada and the United States on Thursday publicly reaffirmed support for innovation in wheat, including the future commercialization of biotechnology.

Currently, there are no commercially approved GM wheat varieties.

To solidify their stance, the groups signed a joint statement – replacing an original document singed five years ago – which details shared commitments for the "responsible advancement of biotech traits and other breeding advancements in wheat."

Australian, Canadian and U.S. farm and wheat organizations confirm commitment to future wheat biotech
Australian, Canadian and U.S. farm and wheat organizations confirm commitment to future wheat biotech

The new pledge adds support from groups representing the broader farm industry, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union.

Related: Biotech Crops Alliance Considers Adding Wheat, Canola Representation

In the statement, signatories call for further innovation in research. Currently, wheat represents about 20% of human calorie intake, making it an essential part of the global diet and critical to food security. As demand increases, the statement says, wheat supplies must remain abundant while meeting the highest quality and nutrition standards.

According to the groups, advanced breeding and biotechnology will help protect the continued availability of wheat foods and "ultimately offers the promise of improved products, more sustainable production and environmental benefits."

The groups also encourage the governments of wheat producing and importing countries to maintain science-based regulatory systems and adopt reasonable low level presence policies to minimize trade disruptions.The groups added that they will work toward the goal of synchronized commercialization of biotech traits in wheat in the three countries.

Related: USDA Continues GM Wheat Investigation as Japan Lifts Import Ban

Similarly, they reiterate that customer choice is paramount: "We stand ready to assist all industry segments to assure supplies of non-biotech wheat within reasonable commercial tolerances to markets that require it."

Regulatory concerns were the most pressing issue following the May, 2013, discovery of GM wheat in Oregon, as some countries subsequently halted U.S. wheat imports.

The discovery also sparked a large investigation by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to determine if any GMO wheat had entered commercial supplies, finding also in July after three months of review that there was no evidence of GM material in any commercial supplies.

U.S. organizations signing onto the statement include: American Farm Bureau Federation, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Farmers Union, North American Millers' Association, U.S. Wheat Associates.

Canadian and Australian signatories include: Canadian National Millers Association, Cereals Canada, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Grain Growers of Canada, Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, AgForce Queensland, Grain Growers Limited, Grain Producers Australia, Grain Producers SA, Pastoral and Graziers Association of Western Australia, and Victorian Farmers Federations Grains Group.

News source: US Wheat Associates