Ontario Agriculture

The network for agriculture in Ontario, Canada

Do you want biotech wheat?

Two weeks ago I wrote about my hopes for the next phase of biotech traits for agriculture. Since then, grower and processor organizations representing Canada, U.S. and Australia have come forward to indicate they are actively advocating for genetically modified wheat.

Earlier efforts to bring GM wheat with herbicide tolerance to the marketplace failed miserably. Importing nations, end users and consumers put a quick stop to this initiative a few years ago and the company behind herbicide tolerant wheat put the project on the shelf.

If I think about it, these early public relations efforts by the Canadian, Australian and U.S. wheat organizations show that primary agriculture is slowly learning that the marketplace needs to be made aware of the benefits of biotechnology before the new seed products arrive in our fields. I think GM wheat will still be a tough sell, but there are a couple of valid points that should help.

First, wheat productivity is falling behind other crops. If you were in charge of a major seed and genetics company, you would probably not invest a lot of resources in developing new wheat varieties because the returns just aren’t there. Where I farm in Ontario, we have benefited immensely from a competitive environment whereby 3 seed companies have pushed each other to continually deliver the goods in terms of new wheat genetics that deliver yield and disease protection – but they are all indicating that there is no money in this sector and are not likely to continue or increase wheat research. Even if you hit a home run as a breeder and develop a super variety, you’ll sell some seed in the first couple of years that will be kept over and multiplied on farm. I do some of this myself, a practice that does not exist for hybrid corn and GM soybeans.

Having said this, for GM wheat to make sense for me, there will need to be significant value in the trait. If I’m going to be paying higher prices for wheat seed every year, there must be more revenue potential from growing the crop. I’m not convinced that herbicide tolerance is where we need to go here. Weed control in wheat is not as big a deal as it is with corn, soybeans or canola. The challenges I think we need to address are yield, disease control, drought tolerance, and nutritional or processing properties that will add value for the end user.

A perceived food shortage last summer led to some big price spikes for crop prices. But for wheat, the supply issue was real. This crop is a major planet feeder and deserves more attention from researchers and genetics companies, whether the advancements are GM or conventional.




What do you think? Will the public accept GM wheat? What traits should the genetic companies deliver? Would you grow GM wheat?

Click here to join the discussion.

Peter Gredig
Farms.com
Peter.Gredig@Farms.com

This commentary is for informational purposes only. The opinions and comments expressed herein represent the opinions of the author--they do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Farms.com. This commentary is not intended to provide individual advice to anyone. Farms.com will not be liable for any errors or omissions in the information, or for any damages or losses in any way related to this commentary.

Views: 33

Comment

You need to be a member of Ontario Agriculture to add comments!

Join Ontario Agriculture

Agriculture Headlines from Farms.com Canada East News - click on title for full story

How one company is reducing agricultural waste on Earth Day

As the world celebrates Earth Day on Monday, one agriculture organization is reflecting on the work it accomplished in 2023. According to a release from CleanFarms, a non-profit group that ensures farmers actively contribute to a healthy environment, the agriculture industry used many recycling and safe disposal programs for agricultural plastics and packaging last year, and there’s certainly an appetite for more solutions in the future. One example that CleanFarms offers is AgriRÉCUP in Quebec, which operated four permanent collection programs and two pilot programs in the province that captured pesticide and fertilizer containers, plastics for hay and silage protection and seed, and pesticide and fertilizer bags. “We’re thrilled to have seen so much expansion in our programs last year,” said Barry Friesen, executive director of Cleanfarms. “Earth Day encourages us to acknowledge the important work we get to do on behalf of our members, with farmers, first sellers, ag retailers, an

More incentive for grads to consider agriculture-focused vet career

On any given day, Prince Albert, SK veterinarian Peter Surkan sees roughly 40 patients, but for every patient he sees, there are dozens more waiting. To accommodate all of the clients in the area, Surkan said there needs to be more vets, especially in smaller, rural communities. His practice in Prince Albert only has three full and part-time veterinarians, compared to 10 vets a decade ago. On Friday, the province announced $13.2 million in funding to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in 2024-25, representing a $667,000 increase over last year. The money will partially subsidize 25 training seats for Saskatchewan students. “We continue to see a rising demand for veterinary services in the province and they are a key support for our growing economy,” Advanced Education Minister Gordon Wyant said in a press release. “This is a priority investment for Advanced Education that supports the continued implementation with five new seats, bringing the total now to 25 seats, t

Squeal on Pigs Manitoba receives new Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership funding

Manitoba Pork, in partnership with the Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba, and in collaboration with Manitoba’s agricultural sector, is pleased to announce that the Squeal on Pigs Manitoba initiative will receive over $2.6 million over the next four years to further the work of tracking and removing wild pigs from Manitoba’s landscape. “Wild pigs continue to thrive across Manitoba and are vectors for many diseases that have a devastating impact on both domestic pigs as well as other animals,” said Dr. Wayne Lees, project coordinator, Squeal on Pigs Manitoba. “Together with our partners in both the provincial and federal governments, as well as Manitoba’s agricultural sector and stakeholders across the province, this new funding will allow us to further our efforts to track, trap, and remove wild pigs from the landscape and protect our province.” The goal of the Squeal on Pigs campaign is to identify where wild pigs are in Manitoba, control their spread, and remove as m

Another year of guaranteed financial return for CRSB Certified beef producers from Cargill, its supply chain partners and the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) has once again partnered with Cargill and its customers – Centennial Food Solutions, Gordon Food Service, Intercity Packers, MacGregors Meat & Seafood, McDonald’s Canada, Metro, Recipe Unlimited and Walmart – to provide up to $400 CAD for beef producers maintaining their CRSB Certification. This credit will be provided for another year to “fill the gap” for Canadian beef producers who have made the upfront investment of becomingCRSB Certified but did not receive at least $400 CACargill Certification Credit USE D in financial return for qualifying cattle processed in 2023 as part of the existing Qualifying Cattle Credits  I would like to extend my sincere thanks to these organizations for supporting the CRSB Certified program for another year. In 2024, CRSB will prioritize identifying long-term solutions to ensure certification provides financial value and enduring benefit to producer participation,” said Ryan Beierbach, Chair of the

Competition Bureau Raises Concerns with Bunge-Viterra Merger

The Competition Bureau has thrown some cold water on the proposed Viterra-Bunge merger. 

© 2024   Created by Darren Marsland.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service