Josh Sosland: Bakers should take heart from new study on biotech wheat
BakingBusiness.com, June 8, 2010
by Josh Sosland

Bakers fearful of consumer attitudes toward flour that might be milled from bioengineered wheat should take heart from a new study just released by the International Food Information Council.

In its 14th Food Technology Consumer Survey, the group found that 80% of Americans were either very likely or somewhat likely to purchase bread, crackers, cookies, cereal or pasta products made with ingredients milled from bioengineered wheat “if they were produced using sustainable practices to feed more people using fewer resources such as land and pesticides.” Only 5% said not at all likely in response to the question.

It was the first time IFIC had asked consumers about specific grain-based foods. Also encouraging in the study was how consumers defined sustainable practices. Rather than focusing on carbon footprint, recycling or reduced waste, respondents favored sustainability focused on efficiency — ensuring an adequate food supply, using land and water efficiently and maximizing output with minimal use of natural resources.

Such aspects already are encompassed in the overwhelming majority of bioengineered traits in crops under cultivation today. As corn and soybeans continue becoming ever more popular among growers, the study is a reminder of the importance of giving wheat the technological tools needed to remain competitive for U.S. farmers.