Argentina plans to start growing drought resistant GMO wheat

The drought-resistant type of HB4 wheat of Bioceres SA biotechnology firm has been approved by the Argentinean authorities, representatives of the company and the government said on Wednesday. Argentina was the first country in the world to approve the strain of GMO wheat, Reuters reported.

No country has yet given the “green light” to the import of GMO products, and Bioceres said it will start selling HB4 only after the new type of wheat will be approved for import by Brazil. Brazil is the largest buyer of Argentinean wheat, and Bioceres said it will start selling HB4 only after the new type of wheat is approved for import by Brazil.

“Today Argentina is leading the technological transformation at the international level,” said Federico Trucco, CEO of Bioceres.

“HB4 technology provides seeds that are more resistant to drought, minimize production losses and provide greater predictability of yield,” the ministry said in a statement.

While other crops, such as corn and soybean, have been genetically modified to increase yields or sustainability, GMO wheat has nowhere been approved for commercial production due to consumer concerns.

“I will not plant HB4 wheat and do not recommend it to anyone else until it has been approved by the importing countries. It seems risky, we can get a crop that nobody wants to buy,” said Francisco Santillian, farm manager in Cordoba, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires Province.

Last year, 45 percent of the 11.3 million tons of wheat harvested in Argentina was shipped to Brazil. The head of the Brazilian Wheat Producers Association Rubens Barbosa told Reuters that the group is following the situation with interest.

“We requested information from the government because no country now allows the import of GMO wheat,” explains Gustavo Idigoras, head of the Argentine Chamber of Commerce for Grain Export CIARA CEC.

Dave Green, executive vice president of the Wheat Quality Council, a U.S. trade group, said that “none of our export customers are interested in GMO wheat.

If HB4 is successful, we can see the rapid spread of biotech wheat throughout the world, both transgenic and genetic engineering methods (CRISPR).