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GMO wheat in the US? It’s getting closer

Argentina is now producing GMO wheat and has export buyers, but trade remains a hurdle for the U.S.

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Wheat Field
Petra | Pixabay

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are gaining more acceptance both in the U.S. and worldwide, but it still could be a few years before GMO wheat is grown in the states.

Competition from Argentina, however, has the potential to change that, said Aaron Harries, vice president of research and operations for Kansas Wheat.

“I’ve been telling people for 16 years now that we’re 10 years away from GMO wheat in the world,” Harries said during the Sorghum U – Wheat U event on August 9 in Wichita, Kansas. “It turns out that 10 years ago I was correct, because there is a GMO wheat now being grown in Argentina for export to Brazil.”

And the market for that is growing, because authorities in Australia have also approved GMO wheat for import.

So what does that mean for the U.S.?

Harries said the GMO trait that is already being used in GMO corn in the U.S. has gained approval for use in wheat by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“But that does not mean that we’ll have GMO wheat in the United States anytime soon,” he said, noting that there may not be sufficient export markets to justify it.

“We still have customers in Asia and in Europe that won’t accept GMO wheat,” Harries said. “That’s still a hurdle to get over, but I think we are closer to (growing) GMO wheat than we have in many years.”

Aaron HarriesAaron HarriesRoy Graber

Kansas Wheat is the cooperative agreement between the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, which formed the agreement to join together as “leaders in the adoption of profitable innovations for wheat.”

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