June 27, 2022


Bioceres to seek planting approvals in Australia for its GMO wheat


Federico Trucco, chief executive of Argentina-based Bioceres Crop Solutions, said the firm is planning to run field tests of its genetically modified drought resistant wheat in Australia and seek planting approvals in the country next year, Reuters reported.


As food prices soar as a result of the conflict in the Ukraine and more extreme weather patterns raise the possibility of global famines, the company is depending on consumers becoming more accepting of eating genetically modified (GMO) wheat.


In order to support the case for GMO wheat, which has encountered opposition from farmers and consumers, Trucco referred to Russia's invasion of major wheat producer Ukraine as a "reality check" for world food supplies. The effort to develop it is being led by Bioceres.


Only Argentina has given the go-ahead for planting Bioceres' HB4 wheat, despite Australia having approved the consumption of food made from the company's GMO wheat in May. In the dry "Cerrado" savanna, Brazil is trial-planting HB4 wheat.


Australia represents the next step in the globalisation of genetically modified wheat, according to Trucco, who also stated that Bioceres intended to begin the formal regulatory process for planting approval next year with the goal of receiving approval in 2024.


He said theplan is to launch field trials the following year. Currently, seeds are being imported. As a result, the regulatory process starts during the following wheat campaign, which is the following year.


Additionally, Bioceres is negotiating to acquire a controlling interest in a new Australian venture that would include that company's wheat business and be led by the local affiliate of the publicly traded US company S&W Seed. In the third quarter of 2022, the deal may be announced.


The Australian Department of Health stated that because it had not yet formally received the application, there was no timeline for a decision on whether to approve Bioceres' HB4 wheat for planting.


Trucco expressed optimism that approval would also be granted in the US where the firm has asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Agriculture Department (USDA) for permission to plant and consume certain crops. A request for comment from the USDA was not replied. The FDA chose not to respond.


Trucco said the HB4 seeds would be most useful for the centre of the US, where this season's winter wheat crop has been severely affected by drought. 


Although most of the other major global commodity crops, such as corn and soybeans, have undergone genetic modification, consumer resistance to wheat has persisted. In 2004, the seed company Monsanto abandoned plans to produce genetically modified wheat in the US.


Trucco said obtaining approvals for the company's GMO wheat in Russia and Ukraine would be a logical next step, but for the time being the two major grain producers are off limits because of the conflict.


He said HB4 is an excellent way for Ukraine to level the playing field against powerful competitors like Argentina, the US, and Australia.


-      Reuters

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