Argentina fears skeptical consumers could cripple global rollout of drought-tolerant GMO wheat

| | March 14, 2019
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Credit: Wall Street Journal
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Argentina thinks it has a solution to droughts that’ve plagued blockbuster wheat producers from the Black Sea to Australia. The problem? Acceptance won’t come easy.

Agtech startup Bioceres has developed a genetically-modified wheat plant that can withstand drought and offer farmers higher yields. But while GMO soybeans and corn, mainly used for animal feed, are widely planted and traded, the agriculture industry has been loathe to take the plunge with wheat, which is directly consumed by humans.

Argentina’s government and agriculture industry want to foster the nation’s potential as a global leader in seed and farm technology. But growing GMO wheat could cause global buyers to shun Argentine supplies. Just last year, Japan and South Korea suspended purchases from Canada after GMO plants were discovered on its wheat belt.

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There’s a desire to approve the Bioceres seed, said Luis Urriza, Argentina’s agriculture undersecretary. “But, there’s a risk for trade. We need assurances from our export markets.”

“Consumer resistance is not going to go away quickly,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. “It’s going to take years, if not decades.”

Read full, original article: Drought-Stricken Wheat Belts Offered a Thorny Solution From Argentina

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