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U.S. wheat industry “petitions” for biotech
It’s been nearly five years since Monsanto Co. walked away from plans to commercialize wheat genetically altered to tolerate herbicide treatments.
But leaders of the U.S. wheat industry continue to push for someone – anyone – to bring them new wheat techonology that can boost bushel counts.
The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) said Thursday it was sending out more than 21,000 “petitions” to wheat producers around the United States to measure and document the level of support for biotech trait commercialization. NAWG hopes to convince biotech companies there is enough support to back what has been a controversial idea – bringing biotech to bread.
Grower responses are requested by Jan. 19.
“We’re convinced the support is there. This petition will either confirm or confront that belief,” said NAWG CEO Daren Coppock.
“By reading the petition and responding with their support, growers can help our industry show biotech companies that they are smart to make the commitment of time and resources and bring this tool to growers,” Coppock added.
U.S. wheat acres have been declining with many farmers converting acres to other crops.
NAWG said it the industry needs wheat that is more tolerant of drought, heat and cold, more disease resistant, and wheat that uses nitrogen more efficiently.
Monsanto shelved its biotech wheat project in May 2004 after an outpouring of opposition by environmentalists, farmers, consumers and religious groups, as well as foreign wheat buyers. Concerns include worries about possible human health hazards, increased weed resistance and fears Monsanto is gaining control over key world crops.