Letters: Growers want use of biotechnology
Growers want use of biotechnology I farm in southwestern North Dakota. In the past 20 years, the area has transformed from a half fallow, half wheat production system to no-till, resulting in huge gains in productivity. These gains are largely a ...
Growers want use
I farm in southwestern North Dakota. In the past 20 years, the area has transformed from a half fallow, half wheat production system to no-till, resulting in huge gains in productivity. These gains are largely a result of adoption of new equipment technology, new herbicide technology and new fertilization techniques.
But producers have been denied one of the major technological advances of our time. I believe there's a growing realization that biotechnology will be needed for wheat to remain viable as a profitable crop.
That's why I think biotech wheat R&D must be a fast-track priority. Producers of other major crops have already had a decade of experience with biotechnology. During that time corn and soybean growers have experienced increasing productivity and improved profitability. They now look forward to second generation traits such as drought tolerance, cold tolerance, improved nitrogen efficiency and new end use traits.
It is now five years since the first moratorium on biotech wheat was introduced into the North Dakota Legislature. At that time, some advocated a "go slow" approach for commercialization of a biotech wheat trait. But it's clear that wheat is a sinking ship. Go slow and wait, and the wheat production sector drowns, simple as that.
Biotech rice has been commercialized in Iran and China may soon follow; there are reports that it's already being grown. China has done significant research on biotech wheat and once a major food crop like rice has gone biotech, there will be little argument left to stop commercialization of biotech wheat, particularly if it's adopted by the world's biggest consumer (China).
An estimated 70 percent of processed food items in our grocery stores already contain biotech ingredients, and those ingredients have been included in more than one trillion meals.
The market will develop ways and find solutions to handle biotech wheat. Might we lose an export customer for a short period of time? It's possible, but the overwhelming belief today is that the risks of not pursuing this technology in wheat are far greater. After five years of going slow, I believe now we need to just simply go.