GM Wheat Is Coming –Eventually

The need to make more money growing wheat will see genetically modified varieties commercialized in seven to 10 years, according to a leading American wheat organization.

“I think this is a matter of when we have GM wheat products in the market, and not so much an if at this point,” Vince Peterson, U.S. Wheat Associates’ vice-president of overseas operations told the Canada Grains Council’s annual meeting in Winnipeg April 4.

“We’re really obliged to look at it and be honest with the world market about what’s inevitably going to be coming down the road.”

Millions of acres of GM corn, soybeans, cotton and canola are grown in many countries, but wheat, the world’s main food crop, hasn’t joined the GM club yet because of wary consumers, especially in Europe and Japan.

All crops are “genetically modified” as different genes have been combined to make them. The difference with GM crops is that scientists can transfer genes from one life form – for example, a bacterium – and put it into another, such as a plant. Because that can’t happen naturally, critics have dubbed them “Frankenfoods.”

ATTITUDES CHANGING

However, attitudes are changing, according to Peterson.

“There’s still a huge amount of work to be done (in terms of market acceptance),” he said. “I think everyone wants this done correctly unlike when Monsanto came in the last time (in 2004) with their Roundup Ready wheat and the whole world went up in arms.

“I think this time around it will be done judiciously and at a slow pace.”

New Hall of Famers:Two

Manitobans will be inducted into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame later this year. The late Vernon W. McIntyre, a pedigreed seed grower from Elphinstone who was active in industry and community organizations and Robert Keith Smith, the retired principal of the Agricultural Extension Centre in Brandon who was also active in industry organizations and overseas development projects will be honoured at induction ceremonies in July. – Staff

No “fowl” play:A vacant

chicken barn five miles east of Morris was razed by an explosion April 8. RCMP and emergency crews found the unused building completely destroyed upon their arrival on the scene. The building was reported to be propane heated, and had electrical service. The building’s value was rated at less than $20,000. Investigators say there is no evidence that the cause of the explosion was suspicious. – Staff Opposed:The Western Canadian Wheat Growers says it is opposed to a proposal to give farmers the option of marketing canola through the Canadian Wheat Board. “The threat of trade action is simply too great,” said president Kevin Bender in a release. “Placing canola under the CWB, even on a voluntary basis, would jeopardize the phenomenal growth and success we’ve seen in the canola industry.” The Manitoba Canola Growers Association is currently surveying farmers to determine their level of interest in the scheme. – Staff Ozone depletion

unprecedented:Record loss of the ozone, the protective atmosphere layer that shields life from the sun’s harmful rays, has recently been observed over the Arctic in recent months, the World Meteorological Organization reported.

“Depletion of the ozone… has reached an unprecedented level over the Arctic this spring because of the continuing presence of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere and a very cold winter in the stratosphere,” the United Nations agency said in a statement. Flood death:A 61-year-old man from the Niverville area drowned April 8 after he attempted to drive across a flooded section of the road in the RM of De Salaberry in eastern Manitoba. RCMP say his car left the roadway and became submerged. The RCMP underwater recovery team found his body the following day after he was reported missing.

– Staff

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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