Environmentalists and markets eye Argentina’s transgenic wheat askance

Argentina, one of the world’s biggest food exporters, has become the first country to approve the marketing of transgenic wheat, a variant named HB4 which its creators consider a triumph of science but faces the rejection of the markets, environmental activists, and health professionals.

Developed by the biotech giant Bioceres, drought-resistant HB4 is the result of joint work between that private company, CONICET (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas) researchers and a team at the 'Universidad Nacional del Litoral.'

Argentina has been producing transgenic soy and maize for years, mainly used for animal feed and also for emulsifiers and sweeteners for human consumption, present in ultra-processed foods but in very small quantities.

This wheat will be the first time that a genetically modified seed is used to elaborate a food aimed totally at human consumption – the flour used to make bread or pasta.

Although Argentina’s food health authorities have approved its marketing, linked to the application of glufosinate-ammonium herbicides, the effective start of sales will depend on the endorsement of Brazil, Argentina’s leading wheat importer.

In a statement, agricultural firms, producers, stock exchanges, and Argentine bond markets criticized "the extraordinary economic risk" posed by HB4.

"The Argentine market has no experience in consuming transgenic wheat and the commercial domestic use of HB4 will have an impact on wheat pricing and supply in this country," they highlighted in a communiqué.

"The damage to the Argentine wheat market would be irreparable and irreversible, since the contamination [of non-transgenic wheat by this new variant] would spread and segmentation become unviable, thus jeopardizing the joint [public/private] efforts to consolidate new markets and boost exports strongly," they explain.

Brazil’s Wheat Industry Association also expressed itself "against the use of this alternative source of food production."

Last year Argentina was the world’s ninth wheat producer with 19.5 million tons and fifth exporter with 11.3 million tons.

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By: NewsFlare (105747.00)

Tags: News, Argentina, approve, marketing of transgenic wheat