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Biotech Wheat Could Slam U.S. Wheat Prices -Report

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 A new report says that U.S. wheat prices could fall by 40 percent or more if genetically modified (GM) wheat is introduced in the U.S. Buyers in Europe, Japan, and other Asian countries would shift purchases away from the U.S. if GM wheat were introduced there, the report predicts.

The report was issued by the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) in the U.S., a regional network of seven grassroots community organizations. The article says several wheat industry groups have asked Monsanto and other seed companies to start developing GM wheat varieties. Following that request, Monsanto said last year that it was starting a new biotech effort focused on making wheat plants more drought tolerant, more efficient in the use of nitrogen, and higher yielding. Todd Leake, a wheat farmer and member of the Dakota Resource Council, which is part of WORC network, comments that, "Some in the wheat industry seem intent on pushing genetically modified wheat . . . This report strongly suggests they should be very cautious and listen to the customer."

U.S. Wheat Associates President Alan Tracy argues, however, that the wheat industry is working to improve international acceptance of GM wheat in advance of commercial introductions, which are still several years away. U.S. wheat acres have been declining in recent years as farmers shift to more profitable crops.

"U.S. wheat growers generally recognize that, if our industry is to prosper, we need to take advantage of technological changes, and that to feed 9 billion people by mid-century, the farmers of the world need to do so as well," Tracy says.