Bioceres seeks approval to plant Genetically modified wheat in Australia

AUSTRALIA — Bioceres Crop Solutions, an Argentina based crop productivity technologies provider, said it is moving forward in its push to obtain approval to plant and produce its genetically modified drought-resistant wheat in Australia.

Bioceres scored a major victory in May when Food Standards Australia New Zealand approved the company’s drought tolerant strain HB4 for use in food.

However, a different governing body — the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator — must provide approval for the planting of HB4.

Frederico Trucco, chief executive officer of Bioceres, told Reuters that it plans to carry out field tests of its GM wheat in Australia and will seek planting approvals next year

No major wheat exporter has felt the effects of climate change in the last 15 years more than Australia. During which, it has endured two historic droughts in which production was less than half of this year’s record output of 36 million tonnes.

Field trials of HB4 wheat have shown that when this technology is partnered with regenerative soil practices like no-till, the carbon footprint for this crop decreases while yields are protected when water is limited.

In its approval report, FSANZ noted that the Bioceres wheat produced 20% higher yields during periods of water stress than conventional wheat, and Grain Producers South Australia said genetically engineered wheats had the potential to increase sustainability and profitability because they can withstand environmental stresses.

If Bioceres can secure planting approvals in Australia, it could open the door for acceptance in other major wheat producing and exporting countries such as the United States.

The timing of Bioceres’ push for global acceptance of its drought-resistant GM wheat appears to be optimal as drought is impacting wheat production worldwide, including major producers India, and the United States.

Add to that the ongoing supply chain problems and the war between Russia and Ukraine that has limited exports from those major exporting countries, causing wheat prices to skyrocket, and the perceived need for GM wheat has perhaps never been greater.

“This has created a distinct situation to what we had before the conflict and puts wheat right at the center,” Trucco said.

Although most of the world’s corn and soybean crops, which primarily are fed to livestock, are genetically modified, GM wheat has been slower to gain acceptance since it is primarily consumed directly by humans in bread, pasta and other processed products.

The only country that thus far has approved planting of HB4 is Bioceres’ home country, Argentina. Brazil, a major importer, is test planting the GM wheat in its Cerrado region.

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