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GMO wheat is a corn grower issue

(July 15, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- "Genetically modified wheat is absolutely a corn marketing and price issue given the fact that foreign buyers have firmly warned the U.S. grain industry, U.S. farmers, and the U.S. government that they do not want- nor will they buy - genetically modified wheat," says Dan McGuire, director of the Farmer Choice - Customer First program of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA).

On July 10, the Interim Agriculture Committee of the North Dakota Legislature heard testimony concerning the issue of whether the state should allow the planting of genetically modified (GMO) wheat. Both proponents and opponents of GMO wheat made presentations.

"If GMO wheat is introduced in the United States and cannot find a home in the export market, it may also be rejected in the domestic milling and wheat processing sector and ultimately be resisted by U.S. consumers. This would result into a situation where all that unwanted wheat will become a cheap feed grain, in direct competition with corn, thereby forcing corn prices lower than they already are. This is a major economic issue for the farm sector, most especially corn producers," added McGuire.

Iowa State University agricultural economist Robert Wisner told the N. D. legislative hearing that about eighty percent of U.S. hard red spring wheat exports go to twenty-two countries. Those countries currently require the labeling of GMO crops and foods containing ingredients processed from GMOs. Another 15 countries are expected to have similar laws within a few years. Wisner predicted that GMO wheat could cost the U.S. 50 percent of its spring wheat export market resulting in as much as a one-third decline in wheat prices.

"What has happened to the 'market-oriented' U.S. farm policy strategy?" asked Larry Mitchell, CEO of the ACGA "Have we reversed this policy after fifty years of hard work and after spending millions of producer funded grain check-off dollars, and billions of federal tax dollars to create and expand foreign markets for corn, wheat, and other grains? It appears so as our attempt to force the production and acceptance of GMOs can only be described as a 'market-development-in-reverse' program."

"In the 2001/02 wheat marketing year (MY) total U.S. wheat exports only reached 887 million bushels (50 percent of the export level in MY 1981/82) with 205 million bushels being hard red spring wheat, so losing 100 million bushels per year of those exports is serious business with the year-over-year impact being a major price depressant. Given the commingling and blending that goes on with wheat classes, we could expect to see hard and soft red winter wheat exports hurt as well," added McGuire. "There's also the issue of split cargoes where a ship carries more than one class of wheat in its various holds. All of this is just one more serious anti-customer, anti-farmer, and anti-export development."