GM wheat hype busy going nowhere (1/6/2007)

NOTE: Monsanto sponsors a program with the National Association of Wheat Growers to provide "leadership training for a whole new group of wheat leaders." Its focus: biotechnology and the environment. (Gene giants have wide influence, Sacramento Bee, Tuesday, June 8 2004) http://www.activebiotech.net/index2.htm


GMO Wheat Still In The Distance
Scott Yates
Capital Press, 30 May 2007

Spokane - Remember the important announcement that was going to come out on the use of GMOs in wheat? Don't hold your breath.

"As the soldiers went back to headquarters the generals apparently put a damper on the enthusiasm. I had suspected this might happen and hoped that my comments would provide some incentive to make a more bold and unified statement."

John Thaemert, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, was commenting on the majority statement released by the industry's April Wheat Summit. It was far short of his promise that "substantial progress" had been made toward an agreement which would eventually result in the release of a genetically modified wheat. Instead, the summit, which included a dozen organizations, agreed to form a task force on biotechnology.

"The group will consider in more depth the challenges of commercializing biotechnology traits in wheat," the statement said.

Besides the National Association of Wheat Growers, the Wheat Summit included the American Bakers Association, AIB International, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Wheat Improvement Committee, the North American Export Grain Association, the North American Millers' Association, U.S. Wheat Associates, the Wheat Foods Council and three U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies including the Agricultural Research Service, GIPSA and the Foreign Agricultural Service.

Majority opinions from the summit statement were all non-controversial in nature: that farm bill commodity programs be commodity-neutral, that all segments of the industry benefit from production of hard white wheat and encourage its production and that all agree to endorse research priorities submitted by the National Wheat Improvement Committee and NAWG.

The first Wheat Summit was held in September 2006. It was organized by NAWG to point out declining wheat acreage in the United States and how that could affect businesses all along the supply chain. The GMO issue is considered a crucial reason why corn and soybean acreage - both with biotech traits - have recently trended higher than wheat. New drought resistant corn is expected to eat into wheat's acreage even more.

Thaemert hasn't given up hope that a solution can be found which will result in the availability of GMO wheat crops which can deliver important traits to the public as well as farmers.

"We have some momentum, if we persevere good things will happen," Thaemert said.

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