Biotech’s Real Customer: Will GM Wheat Producers Repeat Monsanto’s Error?

Here’s an interesting article about the history and future of GM wheat in the U.S.

From the High Plains Midwest AG Journal: Future of biotech wheat lies with growers, providers

As the wheat industry continues its long progress toward the development of a commercially viable biotech wheat seed, it’s important to recognize where the industry has been, as well as where it hopes to end up.

U.S. Wheat Associates Vice President, Director West Coast Office John Oades said discussions over biotech wheat varieties have been going on in one way or another for more than a decade. Many segments in the industry have had differing opinions, he said, on just what the solution should be to the question of biotech wheat. The industry as a whole, though, has come a long way from the early days of biotech research….

Amazingly, there’s practically no mention of consumers here. There’s brief mention of “some resistance in the European Union and Japan to transgenic crops.” But that’s it.

“Biotech companies, the scientific community and governments need to work through problems together,” Oades said. “Change is most often met with skepticism. We must continue to widen our communication to bring key customers to the table and share good solid refereed science.”

Does anyone recall why Monsanto was caught off-guard with regard to resistance to GM crops? The standard account, at least, is that they made the mistake of focusing on making sure GM seeds would be acceptable to their customers — farmers — and didn’t think enough about the end-users, namely the consumers who would end up eating GM foods — or refusing to.
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p.s., here’s the “Biotechnology Principles for Commercialization” document referred to in the article.

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About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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