Monsanto, the multinational agriculture giant most known for its propagation of genetically-modified (GM) crops, has decided to resurrect its pursuit of GM wheat. Abandoned in 2004 due to opposition from American growers, merchants, and consumers, Monsanto’s GM wheat program is making a comeback.
Apparently many American wheat growers have since changed their mind about the issue. A survey conducted back in February revealed that more than 75 percent of wheat farmers are now interested in growing GM wheat. Citing concerns about pestilence and disease, farmers are reevaluating GM wheat based on claims by Monsanto that GM wheat will fare better than conventional in resisting bugs, disease, drought and frost.
Many nations around the world, including industrialized nations in Asia and Europe, have wholly rejected GM cropsand foods that are made with them. Since 45 percent of the U.S. wheat crop is exported to Europe and Japan alone, the decision to allow GM wheat to be grown in the States will have a huge negative impact on the wheat business.
Hinged upon the recent food crisis in 2008 that caused the price of wheat to more than triple, Monsanto’s endeavors to capitalize on wheat by altering it genetically could not have been timed more precisely. Both China and Australia have been researching and running trials on Monsanto’s GM wheat for years and North America looks to be next if the AgriGiant has its way.
Earlier this year, Monsanto purchased Montana-based WestBred, a company that specializes in germplasm wheat breeding. This move indicates that the corporation intends to move forward with its plan to bring GM wheat to North America.
Concerns about the negative effects of GM crops, which include a variety of illnesses and digestive tract problems when consumed, continue to warrant opposition to their use. Conventional crop fields have also been shown to become contaminated with GM seed through pollination and cross-contamination.
If the public hopes to prevent wheat from taking the same GM course that corn and soy have, it is going to have to express loud and clear opposition to its introduction.