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Is traditional wheat better?, The market power of Russian wheat, India GM crop regulation, sustainable rice production

By Maggie Hennessy

- Last updated on GMT

Research indicates that modern high-yielding wheat doesn't always outperform traditional wheat
Research indicates that modern high-yielding wheat doesn't always outperform traditional wheat

Related tags: Genetic engineering

Traditional vs. modern wheat, Russian wheat priced competitively, best practices for Indian GM crop regulation, and securing high rice yields with minimal global warming impact.

Do traditional wheat & barley outperform modern wheat?

No consistent evidence exists to support the theory that barley or traditional wheat outperform modern high-yielding wheat, according to a study in the Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science​.

Researchers tested whether variations in net leaf photosynthetic rate during grain filling offers any support for the potential better performance of barley and traditional wheat compared to modern wheats in Mediterranean areas.

Two groups of field experiments were conducted in Northeast Spain during 2005/06 and 2006/07 growing seasons combining low and high nitrogen (N) availabilities under rain-fed and irrigated conditions. Traditional (Anza) and a modern (Soissons) wheat cultivars were used in the first experiment group, and wheat (Soissons) and barley (Sunrise) modern cultivars were used in the second.

Both wheat cultivars showed a similar photosynthetic rate during grain filling but higher than that of the modern barley cultivar. The modern wheat, in comparison with the barley cultivar, showed higher photosynthetic rate ​and higher degree of response with improving the environmental conditions associated with a greater transpiration rate (which did not result in differences between cultivars in water-use efficiency at the leaf level).

Source: Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science
DOI: 10.1111/jac.12054
“Leaf Photosynthesis During Grain Filling Under Mediterranean Environments: Are Barley or Traditional Wheat More Efficient Than Modern Wheats?”
Authors: L. G. Abeledo, R. Savin and G. A. Slafer

Russian wheat exporters have limited market power

According to a recent study on wheat export market forces, researchers found Russian wheat exporters can exercise market power in only a few markets, while they are price takers in the majority of importing countries.

Historic studies of competition and price discrimination in the wheat trade have focused on high-quality wheat exporters such as Canada and the United States, so the researchers sought to examine the market power of Russia, which primarily exports medium-quality wheat. They used the residual demand elasticity model to determine whether Russian wheat exporters exercise market power in eight selected importing countries, finding that Russian wheat is priced rather competitively.

Moreover, Russia has market power in only three countries (Alabania, Georgia and Greece) and the estimated inverse residual demand elasticities are rather small. Beyond this, the observed Russian market power is smaller than the market power of traditional wheat exporting countries.

“This type of wheat seems to have more direct substitutes and thus it is easier for importers to switch among suppliers. Consequently, the residual demand curve that Russian exporters face is more elastic than the one American or Canadian exporters face in their major export markets. However, in the countries where there are few alternatives (e.g., they are not fully integrated in the world market), price discrimination is still possible,”​ the authors wrote.

Source: Agricultural Economics
DOI: 10.1111/agec.12072
“Residual demand measures of market power of Russian wheat exporters”
Authors: Zsombor Pall, Oleksandr Perekhozhuk, Thomas Glauben, Sören Prehn and Ramona Teuber

How to regulate GM crops in India

Despite the role of new genetics in improving low crop yield, food shortages and famine in India and other parts of Asia, use of biotech has stalled amid regulatory delays, political interferences and public misconceptions, a study finds.

The study in the Plant Biotechnology Journal​ outlines the reasoning for India’s regulatory logjam and provides recommendations for how to more effectively safeguard the food security of its 1.2 billion people in the future.

The current regulatory system of the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation and Genetic Engineering Approval Committee “effectively”​ used existing expertise and capacity to build a system that regulates GM crops, wrote the authors. “However, it remains untenable due to the fundamental flaws in the EPA Rules 1989. The impact of the draft law on the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI), which was recently introduced in the Parliament of India to create a new biotech regulator will largely depend on the extent to which it clarifies the Union's and States’ jurisdiction and consolidates the decision-making responsibility in a non-politicized fashion, by adhering to the legislative parameters of purposefulness, clarity, transparency, predictability and efficiency.”

In short, the authors noted, regulation shouldn’t endanger the institutional capacity of R&D, innovation and product deployment that are required to reverse the declining availability of food production. New biotech traits have the potential to contribute to sustainable food, feed and fiber production.

Source: Plant Biotechnology Journal
DOI: 10.1111/pbi.12155
“Regulatory options for genetically modified crops in India”
Authors: Bhagirath Choudhary, Godelieve Gheysen, Jeroen Buysse, Piet van der Meer and Sylvia Burssens


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