The adoption of biotech varieties of wheat could be vital to reviving the declining wheat industry in the United States, according to a recently published report.
The paper, "Addressing the Competitiveness Crisis in Wheat," was jointly authored earlier this month by the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), the North American Millers’ Association, U.S. Wheat Associates, and the Wheat Export Trade Education Committee.
According to the report, U.S. wheat production is suffering from a crisis of competitiveness. Expert growth is flat, planted acreage is declining, and domestic use has suffered from a proliferation of challenges. Farmers are choosing other options, such as corn and soybeans, over wheat in their crop rotations because those alternatives are more profitable. The wheat organizations write that if these trends are not reversed, the wheat chain that relies on domestic sources of wheat will face supply challenges that will ultimately impact the consumer.
Daren Coppock, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers, points out that wheat in America is at a crossroads. He points out that the share of American field crop receipts for wheat has fallen over the past 20 years to a low of about eleven percent.
"This tide can be turned, but it will require wheat cooperation and action," said Mr. Coppock.
According to the wheat industry organizations, the lack of biotechnology is one of the primary reasons why farmers are turning away from growing wheat. Each year, the acreage of corn, soybeans, cotton, and canola spread further and displace acres that used to be planted with wheat crops, the only non-biotech crop among the five.
The wheat industry organizations say a concerted effort should be directed toward commercializing genetically modified traits in wheat at the earliest possible opportunity in order to improve its productivity and competitiveness with other genetically modified foods and crops. Efforts are also needed to ensure that marketing systems are in place to assure customers who desire conventional wheat, including regulatory systems that account for adventitious presence of biotech grains in non-biotech shipments, the organizations stated.
Since the earliest of times, wheat has been one of the most important grains in existence. Just about all of the products that individuals consume daily, including flour and pasta, contain this vital crop. Globally, wheat is a vital staple in feeding the world, and growers in the United States play an essential role in this process. It is a shame to learn that such an important industry is on the decline. Adopting biotechnology techniques will offer great promise to the wheat industry in the United States by offering lower costs, while increasing the crop’s quality and value, especially its nutritional value. The advantages for using biotechnology to revitalize the wheat industry in the United States are too numerous. The industry cannot afford to be left behind.
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