A technology provider – Bioceres Crop Solutions, based in Germany – on Oct. 8 announced that Argentina has approved its biotechnology-enhanced wheat trait, HB4, for production and consumption.
The company said it marked the first time a country has approved the HB4 drought-tolerant trait for wheat. Argentina’s regulatory clearance follows its approval of Bioceres’ HB4 soybean trait, which it said has been approved for planting in the United States, Brazil and Argentina. The company said HB4’s wheat commercialization in Argentina is contingent upon receiving import approval from Brazil, which typically purchases more than 85 percent of its wheat imports from Argentina.
The company said it also is pursuing regulatory import approvals for HB4 wheat in the United States, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia. Bioceres said it also intends to initiate regulatory-approval processes in Australia and Russia, as well as “certain countries in Asia and Africa.”
Drought-tolerant HB4 wheat is a patented seed technology developed by Trigall Genetics, Bioceres’ joint venture with the wheat genetics firm Florimond Desprez. In field trials conducted during the last 10 years, Bioceres asserted that HB4 seed varieties increased wheat yields by an average 20 percent during drought-affected growing seasons. In addition to mitigating production losses during drought conditions, the company touts HB4 for facilitating double-crop rotations with soybeans. The company said the backbone of its HB4 technology is a gene derived from sunflowers.
Bioceres said HB4 is integrated with wheat germplasms and branded as EcoWheat®, which combines other Bioceres biotechnologies, such as Rizoderma®, a biofungicide. In preparation for the commercial launch of EcoWheat, the company said approximately 17,300 acres of different varieties of the trait have been planted by participating growers during its latest ramp-up cycle of seed inventories. “This process continues to employ robust, closed (loop) growing systems that are combined with a high level of traceability through state-of-the-art digital farming technologies and strong stewardship, to ensure environmentally friendly farming practices,” the company maintained.