The Government approved the planting of drought-tolerant transgenic wheat

The Government approved the commercialization for planting of the varieties of the drought-tolerant wheat developed by the firm Bioceres.

The decision was known through resolution 27 of the Secretary of Food, Bieconomy and Regional Development of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Nation. In October 2020, Agriculture had made a conditional approval of the HB4 transgenic material pending authorization by Brazil, the largest individual buyer of Argentine wheat grain. Last year, Brazil gave permission for the import as flour, indicating that there were no risks.

In the preamble to the resolution, the Government refers to its approval in Brazil. In addition, it refers to the fact that China also authorized the HB4 event, but in this case for soybeans two weeks ago.

Cereal technology allows its production to be carried out in better conditions when water stress situations occur that affect crops. The initial discovery was made by Dr. Raquel Chan, a researcher at Conicet and the Universidad del Litoral, based on a gene present in sunflower cultivation.

Once the news was known, Bioceres sources indicated that they were “analyzing the scenario” and specified that this year the firm will continue to produce wheat under its Generation HB4 preserved identity system. It is a program where the company has all the management of that product in a scheme in connection with producers who do it for the firm. In recent years, the company has cultivated thousands of hectares, authorized by the Government, whose production did not reach the market.

In A Todo Trigo, which is held in Mar del Plata with the organization of the Federation of Grain Collectors, the Minister of Agriculture, Julián Domínguez, defended the decision made by his portfolio.

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“I am not a deranged person who makes gestures to compromise Argentine wheat. Yesterday we sent all the protocols to China of the genetic event [ese mercado ya aprobó la soja tolerante a sequía]. We are taking every precaution to have all the predictability in the Asian markets,” he said. And he added: “The business scene in Argentina and the world is driven by biotechnology, by knowledge. I am convinced that the response to climate change that is here to stay is through mitigation through infrastructure works such as the work of the Salado River and, of course, through biotechnology. We have no other way.”

Meanwhile, there were complaints from the export. “We are surprised by the decision to release transgenic wheat, no country in the world has approved it for grain. This creates absolute business risk.” pointed to THE NATION Gustavo Idígoras, president of the Chamber of the Oil Industry and the Cereal Exporters Center (Ciara-CEC).

On Twitter, Ciara expanded: “This rule causes a huge commercial risk since all the countries that buy from us do not accept #hb4. And he blamed the national authorities and the development company for eventual problems for the country: “The economic consequences of eventual market losses will fall on the Ministry and the developer company.”

The fear of the exporters is that there will be some rejection in the markets where the Argentine cereal arrives. The exporters had been asking the producers for a declaration where they had to express that they did not have transgenic material in the production they deliver. The mills also seek that it is not transgenic material.

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For its part, the Argentine Rural Society (SRA) expressed its “concern” about the government’s decision to approve the drought-tolerant transgenic wheat developed by Bioceres for planting.

“Agricultural producers receive with great concern the decision of the national government that allows sowing HB4 wheat”, wrote the president of the entity, Nicolás Pino, on his Twitter account.

He then added: “Although we are in favor of technology, we are not certain of the impact it can have on the marketing of the product in foreign markets.”

Last week, Australia, the world’s fifth-largest wheat producer, announced approval for the sale and use of feed derived from the GM drought-tolerant cereal. As mentioned, in addition to Brazil, he also got a permit from Colombia.

So far this year, according to a recent report from the Rosario Stock Exchange (BCR), wheat has contributed US$3.4 billion to Argentina through exports. Yesterday, this entity estimated that, due to the lack of water, higher costs and a perspective of greater planting with barley, the national surface with wheat would drop 500,000 hectares, to 6.35 million hectares.

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