January 29, 2014

Monsanto set to launch first-ever GMO wheat in commercial market



Monsanto is preparing to introduce the first-ever GMO wheat seed into the commercial market, although the herbicide-tolerant wheat has yet to receive legal approval for use worldwide.


According to reports, Monsanto is confident that 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% by 2030, agricultural innovation is important in helping enhance the productivity, sustainability and profitability of wheat for farmers," states the Monsanto GMO wheat platform.


While representatives indicate that 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.


Monsanto has spent a better part of 15 years researching on GMO wheat despite a scandal in 2013 when genetically modified wheat turned up at a farm in Oregon, US. This was a decade after Monsanto supposedly stopped testing the crop and as a result, China placed a strict embargo on all US 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.


In recent times, Monsanto has been under fire for the link of GMO corn to organ damage, tumour growth and untimely death in laboratory rats. Nevertheless, the company indicates that it is working toward new advancements for its products including the use of microbial to make plants more resistant to disease and insects. The company also sees microbial as a way to help improve the health of bees, which are crucial to pollination of many crops and have been struggling against low numbers in recent years.