Wheat, the First Biotech Crop

27 Nov

Agfact #27 

Wheat is the product of a cross between three different grass species which is reputed to have happened about 10,000 B.C.  Our forefathers quickly learned this wild grass was a good source of food for humans and animals.  New species of wheat developed because early farmers selected kernels from their best wheat plants to use as seeds for planting the following year’s crop. That way, only the best wheat qualities were passed from one generation to the next.

Today, the method to select the best quality of corn-soybean-wheat-canola seed is selected in a lab. Biotechnology is not evil as reported in the media.  Just keep in mind Bio means “living things” and technology means “the discover of scientific discovery used to solve problems”. In general terms, Biotechnology is just the use of scientific discovery about living things to solve a problem.

Like the B.C. farmers, Biotechnology today involves the process of Natural Selecting a desired trait or gene.  The difference in the method. Presently, a machine can take the genetic footprint of a seed and identify the desirable trait (example, a plant species that uses less water to produce grain). Personally, this is an amazing innovation.

Scientific Definition of Biotechnology

Food for Thought about Biotechnology

Biotechnology products in the United States are regulated more strictly than any other
agricultural or food product in history. The first biotech crop was available in 1996 but the research began many, many years before. In 1986, the government developed a framework of regulations for biotech crops to ensure it would be safe for humans to consume and the environment.

It is also noteworthy that a record 15.4 million farmers in 29 countries are using agricultural biotechnology.  The grand total of biotech crop acreage of 366 million acres. Ninety percent (14.4 million) of these are resource-poor farmers in developing countries. This fact is a great example of how a scientific discover of living things can solve a problem- feeding nutritional food to people in countries where starvation is a leading killer. 

Read more – Biotechnology 101

The Myth About Who Grows Biotech Crops


Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Ag Facts


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2 responses to “Wheat, the First Biotech Crop

  1. Randall

    November 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    By your first definition of biotechnology you should revise your statistics on the number of farmers and acreage in biotechnology – as almost all crops grown today are from living organisms that have been improved via science. The figures you give are for crops grown using transgenic technology, or genetic engineering – which is very different than biotechnology (especially as you broadly define biotech). I think you know all this, but it’s sloppy to define it so loosely and then give stats that are for a subset of biotech.

  2. farmchiclogic

    November 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I apologize if I was sloppy and that was never my intention. I understand your perspective. However, I was trying to cut through the fear of “new” by not getting caught up in the Scientific Terms. Biotechnology started in simply form with yeast for beer and bread to the new form of genetic coding. I do however find it interesting that I am only one using of living things in my definition of biotechnology. and


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