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May 4, 2010

US Millers & Bakers Discuss Position on GM Wheat

On 4 May 2010 Reuters reported the reaction of the American Bakers Association to the development of gene modified (GM) wheat.  Up until recently, this association had strongly opposed GE wheat.  It is now getting accepting that GM wheat is inevitable and becoming more involved in how it will be brought to market.

The reason for the association's oppostion has been negative public opinion of GM crops amongst U.S. consumers and foreign buyers.  This continues to be a concern.

Hayden Wands, Director of Procurement at Sara Lee at a member of the American Bakers Association recently participated in discussions at the annual meeting of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).  He noted that in order to gain consumer and industry confidence, GM wheat needs to "include nutritional improvements for consumers and/or improving milling and baking characteristics." 

The North American Millers' Association chairman John Miller also attended the BIO meeting.  He stated that the companies and scientists working on GM wheat "need to let millers and bakers participate in testing and helping refine end products to help ensure acceptance ... so far the developers have shown little such interest."

There is currently no GM wheat on the market due to opposition from consumers, trading partners, and the food industry.  In 2004, Monsanto stopped working on herbicide-tolerant "Roundup Ready" spring wheat due to the opposition.  Since then, wheat acreage has been declining steadily as farmers switch to more profitable crops such as GM corn and GM soybeans.  The milling and baking industry is concerned about declining supplies and rising prices. 

Agricultural biotechnology companies are considering new varieties of GM wheat that are drought tolerant, as well as higher yielding and nitrogen efficient.  Research is ongoing in Australia, and at Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta, and Limagrain.  It will be several years in the future before any products are available. 

For more see: Gillam, Carey.  "US millers, bakers urge caution in GMO wheat work," Reuters, 4 May 2010.

About Margaret


CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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