Technology Environment: Argentina becomes the first country to authorize GMO wheat

Environment: Argentina becomes the first country to authorize GMO wheat

Before it can be marketed, however, the new transgenic seed must be approved by Brazil, Argentina’s main market for wheat.

Argentina says yes to GMO wheat. The South American country became the first state in the world to approve the production and marketing of a transgenic seed, which is tolerant to drought, Argentina’s National Council for Scientific and Technical Research said Thursday (October 8th).

But to be marketed in Argentina, this GMO wheat “must be approved by Brazil, Argentina’s main and historic wheat market”, specifies the organization which depends on the government. In 2019, 45% of the 11.3 million tonnes of wheat exported by Argentina were sold to Brazil. The other main markets of the world’s fourth largest exporter are Indonesia, Chile and Kenya.

The development of this wheat is the result of a public-private collaboration of more than 15 years between the Argentinian company Bioceres and a research group from the National University of Litoral (UNL). The latter succeeded in isolating a drought-resistant gene to inoculate it in wheat, soybeans or corn. Until now, research has come up against the complexity of the wheat genome.

“The Argentinian Ministry of Agriculture has approved wheat incorporating our company’s HB4 technology for production and consumption”, welcomed in a statement Bioceres. The HB4 wheat varieties are developed by Trigall Genetics, a joint venture between Bioceres and the French company Florimond Desprez, one of the world leaders in wheat genetics. In production batches and field trials carried out over the past ten years, HB4 wheat varieties have shown an average yield improvement of 20% under drought conditions.

Experts, members of the national seed institute, however expressed their concern about this marketing approval. They stressed in a column on Thursday that no country approves the use of transgenic wheat varieties. “due to the non-acceptance by local and / or foreign consumers of products made from transgenic crops and the difficulty of separating the production of GMOs and that of non-GMOs”.

They also indicated that the possible approval by the Brazilian government “does not guarantee that mills, bakeries and individual consumers will agree to buy our GMO wheat, and if they do, there is no guarantee that they will do so without price reduction”.

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