KANSAS CITY — Participants from as far away as Switzerland but mostly from wheat-growing states across the United States gathered at the Feb. 12-14 Wheat Quality Council 2013 annual meeting held at the Embassy Suites hotel in Kansas City.
Ramifications of the recently successful mapping of the wheat genome, as well as patent law considerations related to the genetic modification of any edible plant, were addressed by speakers. In addition, Noel Vietmeyer, author of a book about Norman Borlaug, father of the “green revolution,” advocated that agriculture departments at American universities make a concerted effort to inform students of Borlaug’s stature as a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and his work as a plant breeder that helped developing countries feed their rapidly growing populations.
Describing the difficulties of mapping the wheat genome, which was accomplished for the first time in 2012, Bikram Gill, Ph.D., of Kansas State University, noted that “one of the largest genomes is the wheat genome.”
He said wheat began to be domesticated about 11,000 years ago and has undergone a great deal of breeding since then. Looking to the future, he said bioengineering wheat “for new traits to deal with climate change, we will have to explore the relatively inaccessible wheat genome.”