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Agricultural News

Wheat Industry Takes Next Step in Biotech Journey- Develop a Message

Sun, 29 Jan 2012 07:43:53 CST

Wheat Industry Takes Next Step in Biotech Journey- Develop a Message There was another step forward unveiled by the wheat industry in the effort to commercialize biotech wheat. At the winter wheat industry meetings in Washington the last few days, it was announced by the Wheat Industry Biotech Council that they have retained a communications and public relations firm to help develop the message that the industry will carry forward to potential customers, end users and even opponents in the next several years. The firm retained by the WIBC is Global Prairie, a group that has offices in several mid america locations, including Kansas City, Ft. Worth and Denver. Caitlan Coffrin with the group made a presentation to the US Wheat- National Association of Wheat Growers Joint Committee Session on Friday, and spoke of how the group would be helping the players in the wheat business work to develop a unified message on genetically engineered wheat, educate the industry regarding that message and then enter a phase of moblization, where that message would be taken beyond just the wheat industry, to other stakeholders that will determine the success or failure of biotech wheat.

We have an audio overview of where the wheat industry is right now in this process- click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear comments from Alan Tracy of US Wheat and Jane Demarchi of NAWG.

The National Association of Wheat Growers and US Wheat have talked for several years about the problem of fewer and fewer acres of wheat being grown each year by farmers, with the general concensus placing the blame on less profitability for each acre grown in wheat versus corn and soybeans- both crops that have had biotech varieties available to farmers since the early to mid 1990s.

According to BakingBusiness.Com, "This isn't the first time at the dance for biotech wheat. Inspired by the success of its Roundup Ready soy and corn, Monsanto, St. Louis, MO, launched a similar GM project for wheat during the 1990s. But enthusiasm waned among end users for putting a bacterial trait based solely on herbicide tolerance into wheat, and the company abandoned the project in 2004."

About four years ago- the wheat industry held a summit- and came out of that meeting determined to approach all of the key players in biotech seed development about moving forward again in bringing GM wheat to the marketplace.

With revitalized interest in the economics of wheat, life sciences companies stepped up their involvement. Many jump-started their work by acquiring existing breeders and seed companies. In 2009, Monsanto leapt back in with its acquisition of WestBred, Bozeman, MT. Limagrain, based in France and the largest seed company in Europe, started actively acquiring breeders in North America. Other such companies with positions in wheat breeding include Arcadia Biosciences, BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta.

A good overview of why Monsanto has decided to reenter the wheat marketplace can be summed up in a presentation that they have posted on the internet- click here for Monsanto's Wheat Update.

The wheat industry is still years away from the first crop of GM wheat. However, most in the wheat industry are convinced that conventionally bred wheat will reap the first gains. Technologies introduced for GM crops have altered the playing field for wheat improvement. Genetic markers and similar modern techniques promise to revitalize older methods.

Because of all of the activity that is now underway on the science side of the project, the WIBC determined they needed help in managing the message. Thus the hiring of Global Prairie. We tweeted one possible message that Global Prairie offered during their presentation to the wheat growers meeting in Washington- "Responsible Innovation for a World in Need."

An excellent PDF to download that captures what is going on in the development of biotech wheat comes from BakingBusiness.Com. Click here for their overview on biotech in wheat called "GM Gets Moving Again"



Ron Hays reports from Washington on Wheat Industry Biotech Council Hiring Communications Firm
right-click to download mp3


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