Archive for the ‘canadian wheat board’ Category

ILC 2009: Earl Geddes – VP at CWB – Wheat Breeding and the Future of Biotech Wheat

July 22, 2009

In case you have not been following the story very closely, the debate over biotech wheat is about to restart again. Cereal breeding in North America has been on the downtrend. The past three months have brought wheat breeding investments by Dow Agro, Monsanto and Bayer. These strategic moves are quite obviously being executed so that beneficial proprietary traits can be inserted into wheat genetics. As mentioned before on this site, many possibilities open up to the consumer and not just the farmer if biotech wheat is introduced. At the International Livestock Congress at the Calgary Stampede, Earl Geddes and I discussed the future direction of wheat breeding and how biotech wheat may lead us there.


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ILC 2009: Earl Geddes – VP at CWB – Developing Innovative Services and Markets For the Western Canadian Farmers

July 17, 2009

I had the the opportunity to sit down with Earl Geddes, Vice President of Farmer Services, Canadian Wheat Board at the International Livestock Congress. Earl and I discussed some of the new markets and services being developed by the board for farmers. I also asked Earl about how different demographics are using the boards programs and what they are doing as a company to address that.

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ILC 2009: Brant Randles – Louis Dreyfus Canada – Feed Grain and Oilseed Complex Outlook

July 17, 2009

At the International Livestock Congress I spoke to Brant Randles, President of Louis Dreyfus Canada regarding his outlook for feed grains and oilseeds in the future. Brant and I also talked about the future of grain handling as it pertains to identity preserved crops and the future of the rail system for handling grain from a Canadian perspective.

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Biotech Wheat Coalition is Formed to Push the Need For Biotech Wheat

May 20, 2009
Canadian, Australian and American wheat organizations have formed the Biotech Wheat Coalition “in support for more efficient, sustainable and profitable production of wheat around the world”. See the Joint Statment Here

As RealAgriculture.com has discussed before the need for biotech wheat is rising and the usual roadblocks are presenting themselves as discussed by the Canadian Wheat Board in a Reuters Story on May 15th.
  • Wheat Board wants assurance of market acceptance
  • GM wheat seen unpopular with many overseas customers
  • Must be assurances that the GM wheat could be segregated from the non-GM wheat.

Biotech is the avenue for pull type traits to become a reality in wheat. I take issue with Mr. Klassen’s comments in the Reuters piece as he explains that producers have made production adjustments on their farm production practices and conventional breeding has proven to provide some of the same benefits to farmers as biotech wheat would. How does this apply to things like fusarium prevention, improved food taste, nitrogen use efficiency and drought tolerance?

In reaction to the wheat boards usual joust that we have no way of segregating the conventional varieties and biotech varieties, I say that maybe we should start building a grain handling system that promotes new markets and identity preserved variety systems instead of forcing farmers to produce a homogeneous product against lower cost rivals in South America. Somehow in Canada farmers produce non-GM and GM canola and accomplish segregation. Why could this not work in wheat as well? Please remember that trait development is no longer just about production traits but pull type traits that will directly benefit consumers, which in my opinion will lead to the global acceptance of GMO’s.

As stated in the Canadian Press Release—The application of biotechnology in wheat research could lead to the development of several traits to improve wheat yields and wheat quality.  Traits to improve yields could include those that deal with environmental factors (e.g. drought, cold tolerance), combat weed or insect infestations (e.g. midge, sawfly), improve disease resistance (e.g. fusarium, rust) or improve the wheat plant’s utilization of nutrients.   Traits to improve the quality attributes of wheat could include those that are designed to accommodate consumers with food allergies, reduce obesity, or improve the nutritional profile of wheat-based foods.

If anything, it is at least time that we reinvigorate the discussion around biotech wheat and not fall into the same roadblocks and instead begin working towards solutions for those roadblocks.  Lets talk to our overseas buyers and discuss the benefits biotech wheat could provide.  For example, ask 10 bakers if they would like a grain that would extend the life of a loaf of bread by 2 days.  What would the net impact be on a hog farm that could buy fusarium free wheat to feed to their hogs.  Or maybe ask a pasta maker, would he like a durum that would produce ultra low cadmium levels or improve the production process by a significant amount.  

One thing proven this past week is that this nonsense that farmers do not accept GM crops but instead they are pushed on them by large multi nationals is ridiculous based on the resounding collective voice heard throughout the world by wheat growers in forming this biotech wheat coalition.

Canadian Wheat Board Election Controversy — Siemenssays.com

April 29, 2009

Harry Siemens of SiemensSays does a great job in the following article and podcasts to bring to light the controversy over who has or hasn’t reported their donor list in the past CWB elections.  Harry interviews former board candidate Rolf Penner, Ian Craven of Meyers Norris Penny and Larry Hill, Canadian Wheat Board Chair.  

Get the Story and Podcasts Here

It seems that when it comes to the Canadian Wheat Board there is always controversy around the election process.  I am not sure what comes with more controversy, elections in Florida or at the CWB.  Based on the single candidate fundraising limit of $14000, I am not sure what the big deal is but if farmers demand these donor lists then so be it.  
When you listen to the clear violation of the election rules as it pertains to signs and the use if the logo (Larry Hill interview) it really makes you wonder what is going on and why the rules are not more clearly enforced to ensure election fairness.