Tuesday, February 5, 2008

U.S. Wheat Customers Are Hearing About Transgenic Wheat

US Wheat Export Letter
2/1/2008

USW is working in cooperation with the National Association of Wheat Growers through a Joint Biotechnology Committee to develop the potential for transgenic wheat production in the U.S. As part of that cooperative endeavor, USW is ramping up efforts to help our international customers understand that transgenic wheat is on its way to market – and why. In the last six months, USW has made a presentation called “Transgenic Wheat – Outlook for the Future” to hundreds of private and public wheat buyers, millers, processors and government officials at public meetings in more than 20 countries, including Asian and European nations where public resistance to genetically modified food remains strong.

“The presentation helps customers understand that transgenic crop production is expanding rapidly around the world,” says USW’s John Oades, Vice President and Director West Coast Office, who prepared the message and has delivered it several times. “More than 250 million acres of transgenic crops are being grown in 22 countries on six continents.

“At the same time, world wheat harvested area continues to decline,” he notes. “Yes, traditional breeding has increased yields and the world produces more wheat every year, but wheat consumption has exceeded production in eight of the last ten years. The simple fact is that wheat acres are being replaced by crops that offer more profit to producers, often because of their transgenic traits.”

USW is making the point that something has to change to make wheat more competitive – and one of the leading options is transgenic technology.

“Ultimately, transgenic wheat must deliver benefits to everyone in the supply chain and customers must be able to choose between transgenic and non-transgenic wheat,” Oades says. “Everyone involved in its development must be able to clearly demonstrate those benefits to buyers, processors and consumers at home and around the world. Before that happens, we all have to work toward science-based standards for acceptable tolerances for incidental or trace amounts of biotechnology-enhanced events in raw and processed grains and oilseeds, as well as food and feed.”

To learn more about industry positions on transgenic wheat, visit the Web at http://www.uswheat.org, http://www.wheatworld.org or http://www.growersforbiotechnology.org.

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