Biotechnology Position Statement

Adopted by USW, NAWG and WETEC, February 2006; point #5 amended October 2012

Biotechnological research holds great promise for the future, and the U.S. wheat industry recognizes these advancements. In preparation for the future commercialization of biotechnologically-derived wheat, we take the following positions.

We support and will work to ensure the ability of wheat producers to make planting and marketing choices based on economic, agronomic and market factors.

We support the ability of our wheat customers to make purchases on the basis of specific traits. We commit ourselves to the principle that our customers’ needs are vitally important.

We support and will assist in the development by all segments of the industry of an orderly marketing system to assure delivery of non-transgenic wheat within reasonable tolerances to markets that require it.

We urge the adoption of a nationally and internationally accepted definition of biotechnologically-derived products.* We also urge international harmonization of scientific standards and trade rules.

We support voluntary labeling of food products derived from biotech ingredients provided it is consistent with U.S. law and international trade agreements and is truthful and not misleading. We oppose federal or state mandated labeling of products based solely on the method of production, including foods derived from biotech ingredients, if they do not differ materially from their non-biotech counterparts.

We support the establishment of a reasonable threshold level for adventitious or accidental inclusion of biotechnologically-derived traits in bulk wheat or wheat food products in both U.S. and international markets.

We are confident that biotechnology will deliver significant consumer and producer benefits and we support continued biotechnology research, and product and markets development. We invite valued and interested customers to join with us in a working partnership to explore the emerging biotechnology industry.

*U.S. Wheat Industry Definition of Biotechnologically-Derived (Genetically Modified Organisms)

“Genetically modified organisms (commonly referred to as “transgenic”) are organisms derived from somatic cell fusion or direct insertion of a gene construct, typically but not necessarily from a sexually-incompatible species, using recombinant DNA techniques and any genetic transformation technology (e.g., bacterial vectors, particle bombardment, electroporation).”

Adopted by NAWG and USW, November 2008

The U.S. wheat industry recognizes the benefits and value which could be created within the wheat chain through the prudent application of modern biotechnology. U.S. wheat producers will support commercialization of transgenic wheat traits after thorough review and development of a commercialization plan that facilitates commercialization with minimal market disruption. We support the ability of our customers to make purchases based on their preferences for specific traits, classes, qualities and characteristics. We will work diligently to assure that commercially achievable customer preferences are met.

The U.S. wheat industry will support commercialization of transgenic wheat traits when:

The technology provider initiates an informative dialogue with the USW/NAWG Joint Biotechnology Committee (JBC) prior to submitting for regulatory approvals in the U.S. This dialogue will allow our organizations to initiate education and outreach activities to both domestic and international customers, and to provide the technology provider with practical information intended to facilitate commercialization with minimal or no market disruption.

Regulatory approvals for food and feed use must be secured in major wheat export markets that will be affected where a functioning regulatory system exists. Major export markets are defined as those which represent at least 5 percent of the normal export volume of U.S. wheat, based on a five-year moving average at the time a provider begins the regulatory process in the United States. In countries where there is no viable regulatory approval system, technology providers will make regulatory submissions promptly when those systems become functional.

Commercialization of the trait must not impair the ability of non-transgenic wheat to meet commercially recognized thresholds for the low-level presence of transgenic traits. Appropriate international tolerances for transgenic wheat in non-transgenic shipments must be established and accepted in major export markets. Anticipated thresholds range from 0.9% to 5.0%.

An accurate, economical and timely trait detection test must be provided by the trait developer prior to commercialization.

The primary responsibility for education and outreach for new traits will remain with the technology provider. USW and NAWG will actively help seek buyer acceptance and will provide guidance, assistance and resources.

The technology provider must demonstrate stewardship of the technology, including education and outreach to growers to assure compliance with agronomic and grower stewardship practices specific to the trait.

We have examined both certified seed and point-of-delivery value capture models. While there are advantages and disadvantages of either approach, we believe the certified seed model will be most acceptable to the value chain and is the preferred approach. Investment in agricultural technology by private parties requires a return on that investment. We support the protection of intellectual property, including education about the importance of complying with seed and stewardship contract provisions and enforcement of those provisions when necessary. Technology traits should be encouraged for adaption into public wheat varieties.

Trilateral Statement of American, Canadian and Australian Wheat Organizations
June 5, 2014

In 2009, nine organizations representing wheat farmers and millers from the United States, Canada and Australia voiced support for the future commercialization of biotechnology in wheat. Additional organizations have joined to reconfirm and update that commitment. As industry leaders and consumers, the undersigned organizations are united to responsibly advance wheat innovation.

1. We support and encourage the use of innovation to help solve pressing problems to address global food security needs. Wheat is an essential part of the global diet, representing about 20% of daily caloric intake. As demand increases, we must find ways to ensure it remains abundant while meeting the highest quality and nutrition standards. In addition to protecting the continued availability of wheat foods, wheat enhanced through biotechnology ultimately offers the promise of improved products, more sustainable production and environmental benefits.

2. We are encouraged by numerous investments in wheat research since 2009. We applaud the increasing private and public investment to grow more and better quality wheat safely, responsibly and in a more sustainable manner through the use of less water, fertilizer, fuel and pesticides. Research investments range from advanced breeding techniques to biotechnology traits aimed at improving productivity and end-use qualities.

3. We encourage exporting and importing nations to maintain sound, science-based biotech regulatory systems. Regulations that provide a sensible framework and predictable approval process are necessary to bring new technology to the marketplace. Biotech wheat will be subject to rigorous scientific testing as well as extensive government approval processes before it is available anywhere in the world. Additional regulations and oversight are not needed as biotech wheat will be developed with the same proven technologies that have been safely used on many other crops.

4. We encourage expediting the adoption of reasonable low level presence (LLP) policies in exporting and importing nations to minimize trade disruptions resulting from asynchronous approvals. This would ensure that trade can continue uninterrupted for commodities like wheat that may contain traces of existing biotech traits approved in accordance with international guidelines by an exporting country.

5. We believe the use of biotechnology to improve wheat is as safe as conventional practices. More than 15 years of commercial production and peer-reviewed scientific research show this technology is safe for the environment and consumption. Over one trillion meals have been consumed without a single reported incident and studies have found that biotechnology and products derived from biotechnology have not caused any legitimate food safety concerns.

6. We understand choice is paramount. We envision both biotech and non-biotech wheat coexisting within our current production, grain handling, exporting and processing sectors to meet specific customer demands. We support choice and are committed to ensuring customers have access to both biotech and non-biotech wheat, delivered through reasonable tolerance levels.

7. We share the goal of synchronized commercialization of biotech traits in our wheat crops and timely regulatory approval for those traits in importing countries. The coordinated introduction of biotech wheat will help maintain a healthy and competitive global marketplace. We recognize that we are still at the early stages of a process that could last up to a decade, but we remain committed to responsibly advance wheat innovation.

The world needs innovative solutions to meet the growing global demand for wheat foods amidst rising environmental, population and economic pressures. We are committed to a constructive dialogue with our customers, producers and value chain members to responsibly work together on wheat innovation, including biotech trait commercialization.

  • American Farm Bureau Federation
  • National Association of Wheat Growers
  • National Farmers Union
  • North American Millers’ Association
  • U.S. Wheat Associates
  • Canadian National Millers Association
  • Cereals Canada
  • Grain Farmers of Ontario
  • Grain Growers of Canada
  • Grain Growers of Canada
  • Western Canadian Wheat Growers Assoc
  • AgForce Queensland
  • Grain Growers Limited
  • Grain Producers Australia
  • Grain Producers SA
  • Pastoral and Graziers Association of Western Aus
  • Victorian Farmers Federation Grains Group