NAWG pledges more support for GM wheat

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — A major U.S. commodity group intends to be far more proactive in promoting the need to develop genetically modified wheat.

The National Association of Wheat Growers first endorsed GM wheat at its convention in 2008.

“Since that time we’ve kind of relied on the industry to make it happen,” said past-president Bing Von Bergen. 

“We know that as a grower organization that we’ve got to promote this more.”

He told a news conference at the 2014 Commodity Classic that NAWG has been too silent on the issue.

“We’re aware of that, and we’ve let our industry partners know that we’re going to speak out on it whenever we can,” said Von Bergen.

“There seems to be a lot of misinformation about the safety of the new technologies out there.”

President Paul Penner said a chorus of voices needs to speak out in favour of the controversial technology.


Wheat industry organizations in the United States, Canada and Australia signed a trilateral agreement in 2009 to push for synchronized commercialization of GM wheat in those three important wheat exporting nations. 

Penner said it is time to update the wording of that agreement and perhaps add Argentina to the pact. 

He has had recent conversations with Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association in which he stressed the importance of synchronized commercialization. 

“We don’t want to have one nation pitting itself against the other in terms of the marketing (of GM wheat),” said Penner.

“There could be all kinds of problems coming out of that. Working together is a better way.”

Most major seed technology companies are developing GM wheat. Monsanto attempted to commercialize Roundup Ready wheat a decade ago but shelved the project in 2004 because of a lack of industry support for the product.

The company got back into wheat research in 2009.


“We are working on various biotech traits,” said Kevin Hodges, Monsanto’s wheat licensing and marketing manager.

The company is in the early stages of developing yield and stress traits and has already advanced two herbicide tolerant traits in its research and development pipeline.

“We’re probably still a decade away until the farmer can see those, so we’re still looking at a long horizon on the biotech front,” said Hodges.

Darrell Davis, past-chair of U.S. Wheat Associates, expressed frustration at how long it is taking for companies to develop GM wheat.

“They’ve been saying seven to 10 years for quite a few years,” he said.

Davis said GM wheat will be more acceptable to the public if some of the traits under development benefit millers and consumers.


  • I have read that the wheat grown today contains more gluten(like 3Xs more) than the wheat grown by the farmers of our grandparents’ day. With so many people suffering from gluten intolerance and pesticide sensitivites, do you really think this is what the consumers want?
    Canada used to have the best#1 hard red spring wheat in the world ,why would our farmers settle for a more expensive, poor quality version?
    Read the signs Monsanto. You are going the wrong way….!

    • I agree Denise, and the observations you have shared are appropriate warnings.
      However as long as $$$ is the glutton in all of this, my guess is that
      Monsanto, etc. will continue the course, that they have laid out. When the health consequences and realization finally sets in, our government (s) hopefully would
      consider taking action and reversing support. Unfortunately, by then IT will be TOO late.! Consumers will have been assimilated to the products of (GMO’s.)
      Genetically Modified Organisms.

      • They know exactly what they are doing but do not care about the damage they are doing. They can blame the governments for not keeping them in check. It is only about the $$$ at any cost to our world and its inhabitants.
        What contributions have Monsanto and its ilk made to our quality of life and the environment? Here’s a few examples:Saccharine, Aspartame PCBs,DDT, Agent Orange,Bovine Growth Hormone and Glyphosate. Good stuff aye?

    • AngryCountryBoy

      GMO and now GMO Wheat Gluten Intolerance to go along with Cooking Oils (GMO Canola and others) High Fructose Corn Syrup (GMO) Artificial Sweeteners (GMO), and don’t forget ANYTHING that has Soy, and lets not forget a multitude of Hydrogenated Oils (GMO) –

      Welcome to the 21st Century Cancer Plague

  • StephieTP

    I have a chronic intestinal illness for many years. Probably about the same time they introduced GMO foods on the market that we were eating without knowing they were GMO grown. GMO is slow poison to the human race. They kill bugs and pass on the same chemical to human’s. They need to use God given common sense to quit tampering with our natural food supply. .