Bring on the GMO Wheat

Plants could better survive growing drought danger: Jayson Lusk and Henry Miller
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2014 9:45 AM CST
Bring on the GMO Wheat
It's time we started growing GMO wheat, write Jayson Lusk and Henry I. Miller.   (Shutterstock)

In the US, we're growing genetically modified versions of two of our top crops: Some 90% of the soybeans and corn we grow is engineered to fight off pests or herbicides. But we don't grow genetically modified wheat, and it's time to start, write Jayson Lusk and Henry Miller in the New York Times. Now, wheat production is growing more slowly than production of the other crops, planting area has decreased, and consumer prices are higher than they might otherwise be. "The scientific consensus is that existing genetically engineered crops are as safe as the non-genetically engineered hybrid plants that are a mainstay of our diet," but federal regulations remain a hurdle to production.

GMO wheat is particularly urgent due to the threat of increasing drought. A lot of our wheat is nourished by the Ogallala Aquifer in the central plains, and some experts fear that in a few decades, the aquifer's water may be depleted by 70%. GMO techniques could help plants survive with less water, as researchers in Egypt have found. Yes, Europe and Japan, big importers of our wheat, are skeptical of genetic modification—but China, Brazil, and Indonesia are likely more worried about food security than such techniques. It's time to focus on developing GMO wheat and "to end unscientific, excessive, and discriminatory government regulation," Lusk and Miller write. Click for the full piece. (Read more wheat stories.)

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