Better Wheat Is "Mired in Excessive, Expensive and Unscientific Regulation"
(p. A19) Monsanto recently said that it had made significant progress in the development of herbicide-tolerant wheat. It will enable farmers to use more environmentally benign herbicides and could be ready for commercial use in the next few years. But the federal government must first approve it, a process that has become mired in excessive, expensive and unscientific regulation that discriminates against this kind of genetic engineering.
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.
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Much of the nation's wheat crop comes from a section of the central plains that sits atop the Ogallala Aquifer, which is rapidly being depleted.
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New crop varieties that grow under conditions of low moisture or temporary drought could increase yields and lengthen the time farmland is productive. Varieties that grow with lower-quality water have also been developed.
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Given the importance of wheat and the confluence of tightening water supplies, drought, a growing world population and competition from other crops, we need to regain the lost momentum. To do that, we need to acquire more technological ingenuity and to end unscientific, excessive and discriminatory government regulation.
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(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Feb. 2, 2014.)