To bake, or not to bake?

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bread, Monsanto

Whatever their stance on the debate over genetically modified
crops, bakers are now having to decide on whether to stick to
conventional wheats or the genetically engineered product- albeit
with greater social, political and economic implications.

In a recent and critical step forward over the production of bio-tech wheat the Food and Drug Administration is soon to complete its comprehensive review of Monsanto's​ latest product, hard-red spring wheat, a bakers favourite. The product is genetically engineered to ensure a tolerance to the chemical weedkiller Roundup.

Monsanto, the worlds leading provider of agricultural products, produces many of the leading seed brands, and it is through this business that they are able to offer farmers solutions using their genetic materials and biotechnology traits.

Already however, the loaf of bread has already caused Monsanto and anti-biotech forces to draw swords. Wheat will be a stern first test for the company on a list that promises to protect farmers and buyers before it commercialises Roundup Ready wheat. Skeptics are quick to question how long a company, that is maintained by public trade and must answer to investors, can sustain its precaution before profit outlook.

"Wheat is different, it's the communion wafer and the matzo crackers. It's the staff of life and the place where food stops being just about nutrition and takes on a sort of symbolic role"​, said Carol Tucker Foreman, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America.

There are ethical implications of biotechnology- concerns over genetic modifications range widely, from questioning the morality of tinkering with life-forms to the apprehension of giving a handful of large-scale biotech companies control of world's staple crops.

The product would however, significantly reduce the numeracy of pesticides, chemical weed control options thus reducing soil erosion and fuel use.

If the initial rollout of wheat fairs well, then the company will most likely introduce a string of biotech food products with relative benefits, for example a longer shelf life.

Grain is one of the world's key staple products representing 12 per cent trade on the world markets.

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