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Australia’s GM Wheat 10 Years Away

June 9, 2010

The director of Australia’s Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) said on Tuesday that the country needs to focus its attention on wheat breeding technologies, which includes genetically modified wheat.

But genetically modified wheat will not likely be commercially available for another 10 years, GRDC managing director, Peter Reading, told the International Grains Council during a conference.

Breeding technologies were key to addressing the declining rates in Australia’s wheat productivity growth. “It is very encouraging to see the life bioscience companies now investing in wheat biotechnologies,” Reading added.

Australia’s wheat industry has seen huge drops in production in recent years, primarily due to drought. Being the fourth largest exporter of wheat, Australia’s output varied by more than 10 million tons between the 2007 crops and 2008 crops.

Over time, wheat production is expected to move into higher rainfall regions, said Reading, adding that “major emphasis will be on increasing water use efficiency.”

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics estimates the country’s wheat production will be at 23.9 million US tons for the 2009/10 season, up almost a million tons from the previous season.

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