More groups sign on to advance wheat innovation

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union have joined 14 other organizations in Australia, Canada and the United States in support of innovation in wheat, including the future commercialization of biotechnology. The National Association of Wheat Growers, the North American Millers’ Association and the U.S. Wheat Associates were among the nine original members who voiced support back in 2009 for the future commercialization of biotechnology.

In the new statement issued June 5, the signatories highlighted seven ways in which they are united to responsibly advance wheat innovation, including:

  • “We support and encourage the use of innovation to help solve pressing problems to address global food security needs;
  • “We are encouraged by numerous investments in wheat research since 2009;
  • “We encourage exporting and importing nations to maintain sound, science-based biotech regulatory systems;
  • “We encourage expediting the adoption of reasonable low level presence policies in exporting and importing nations to minimize trade disruptions resulting from asynchronous approvals;
  • “We believe the use of biotechnology to improve wheat is as safe as conventional practices;
  • “We understand choice is paramount; and
  • “We share the goal of synchronized commercialization of biotech traits in our wheat crops and timely regulatory approval for those traits in importing countries.

The groups said the world needs “innovative solutions” to meet the growing global demand for wheat foods.

“We are committed to a constructive dialogue with our customers, producers and value chain members to responsibly work together on wheat innovation, including biotech trait commercialization,” the groups said.

For its part, the American Farm Bureau Federation said it is “proud” to be among the organizations united in ensuring wheat supplies remain abundant while meeting the highest quality and nutrition standards.

“Representing about 20% of human calorie intake, wheat is an essential part of the global diet and critical to food security,” the A.F.B.F. said. “Unfortunately, wheat production is on a downward trend around the world because net returns per acre often favor other crops. Wheat demand could very well outstrip the supply in the not-so-distant future. As such, further innovation in research and biotechnology is key to realizing the promise of improved products, more sustainable production and environmental benefits.

“A.F.B.F. supports the effort to synchronize the commercialization of biotech traits in wheat. While acknowledging the importance of commercializing biotech wheat to ensure farmers can meet worldwide demand, we are equally adamant that customer choice is paramount. Where there is demand for non-biotech wheat, we will work to see it is met. In addition, we are urging the governments of wheat growing and importing countries to maintain sound, science-based regulatory systems, as well as to adopt reasonable low-level presence policies to keep trade flowing.”
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