By Hope Gillette/Saludify
Feature to Inside Costa Rica
January 28th, 2014 (Saludify) Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, renowned for its genetically modified organism (GMO) product lines, is preparing to introduce the first ever GMO wheat seed onto the commercial market. The herbicide-tolerant wheat is not legally approved for use anywhere in the world, but according to reports Monsanto is confident the product will be approved by the time it is ready for release in a few years’ time.
“Wheat is grown on more land area than any other commercial crop and is the most important staple food for humans. With demand for the crop expected to increase 40 percent by 2030, agricultural innovation is important in helping enhance the productivity, sustainability and profitability of wheat for farmers,” states the Monstanto GMO wheat platform. “In 2009, Monsanto expanded its seeds and traits portfolio to include wheat. Today, through its WestBred brand, Monsanto is focused on delivering high-performing, locally adapted varieties across major wheat classes in the United States.”
Though representatives indicate Monsanto is several years away from the official launch of the GMO wheat seeds, the company is actively promoting the product, especially to its current soy and corn customers.
“The grain industry and the wheat industry … have remained very interested and supportive of biotech advances,” said Monsanto Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley in a conference call with Reuters. “A wheat farmer is also generally a corn and soybean farmer and they understand the benefits of the technology.”
Monsanto has spent the better part of 15 years researching GMO wheat despite a scandal in 2013 when genetically modified wheat turned up at an Oregon farm. This was a decade after Monsanto supposedly stopped testing the crop and as a result, China placed a strict embargo on all U.S. wheat products.
Monsanto is not the first company to experiment with GMO wheat. In early 2013 reports surfaced regarding a GMO wheat product from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). The crop was linked to liver disease and death due to its ability to “silence” certain genes within the body.
“Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) has developed a type of genetically modified (GM) wheat that may silence human genes, leading to disastrous health consequences,” said Dr. Mercola. “Last year, University of Canterbury Professor Jack Heinemann released results from genetic research he conducted on the wheat, which showed with ‘no doubt’ that molecules created in the wheat, which are intended to silence wheat genes to change its carbohydrate content, may match human genes and potentially silence them.”
For Monsanto, a company already under fire for the link of GMO corn to organ damage, tumor growth and untimely death in laboratory rats, adding GMO wheat to the retail list may seem risky. The company is not worried, however, and indicates they are working toward new advancements for their products including the use of microbials to make plants more resistant to disease and insects. The company also sees microbials as helping improve the health of bees, which are crucial to pollination of many crops and have been battling low numbers in recent years.
Originally published by Saludify as “Monsanto prepares to release first ever GMO wheat.”
Republished with permission. Featured content does not necessarily reflect the views of Inside Costa Rica and is not subject to our editorial process.