Argentina becomes the first country to approve GMO wheat

Argentina has approved a strain of drought-resistant GMO wheat, developed by biotechnology firm Bioceres SA, making it the first country in the world to approve of GMO wheat.

So far no country has given approved the imports of GMO products; in a statement Bioceres said it will only begin marketing HB4 once Brazil provides the green signal for its import. Brazil is the biggest market for Argentine wheat.

“Today Argentina is leading technological transformation at an international level,” said Federico Trucco, Bioceres SA’s CEO in a statement issued in conjunction with the country’s science and technology ministry.

“HB4 technology provides seeds that are more tolerant to drought, minimizing production losses, and giving greater predictability to yields,” said the ministry in the statement.

Other crops, including soybeans and corn have seen wide adoption of GMO to withstand threats and improve yields, this is the first time that GMO wheat has been developed; so far GMO wheat has not been approved for commercial production due to consumers’ concerns.

Wheat is primarily used for human consumption.

“I will not plant HB4 wheat, and I would not recommend that anyone else does, until it has been approved by importing countries. It seems risky in the sense that we could end up with crops that no one wants to buy,” said Francisco Santillan, who manages farms in Cordoba, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires province.

In 2019, 45% of the 11.3 million tonnes of wheat harvested in Argentina was shipped to Brazil.

In a statement Rubens Barbosa, the head of the Brazilian Wheat Industry Associations, said the group was following the situation with interest.

“We have requested information from the government because no countries allow the importation of GMO wheat,” said Gustavo Idigoras, head of Argentina’s CIARA CEC grains export industry chamber.

“I don’t hear anything about GMO wheat efforts here. None of our export customers want any,” said Dave Green, executive vice president of the Wheat Quality Council, a U.S. trade group.

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