Saskatchewan 4th-generation wheat farmer calls for access to biotechnology

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

I’m a fourth-generation wheat farmer in Saskatchewan—and one of my longterm goals is to make sure the fifth generation on my family farm also has the opportunity to enjoy the full benefits of technology.  We cannot let international trading rules be determined by scientific illiteracy and special interest pleading.

A growing number of people share this objective:  Earlier this month, 16 major groups in Australia, Canada, and the United States called for the commercialization of genetically modified wheat.

This is an essential strategy for global food security. Wheat currently accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s daily caloric intake. Yet demand for it continues to multiply, as the planet’s population increases and the middle class expands.

We have to continue to grow more food on less land, using less inputs—something that biotechnology, as a tool, has enabled farmers to do with many crops, such as canola, corn, soybeans and cotton. Why leave wheat farmers on the sidelines?

I’ve also experienced the advantages as we have grown GM canola on our farm for 18 years.  Biotechnology offers us better weed and disease control, which means we don’t have to devote as much time or resources to cultivation or spraying our fields. I’d like to see the same benefits of biotechnology in wheat. Right now, however, there’s no such thing as GM wheat—at least not outside the test plots of researchers and the daydreams of working farmers like me.

In the meantime, farmers and others have some important work to do: we must inform the public about the value of GM crops and get systems in place that accommodate consumer choice.  If we do our jobs well, consumers, farmers and the planet will eventually reap the benefits of GM wheat—and many of us will wonder why it took so long.

Read the full, original article: Wheat trilateral strategy: more food with less inputs

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