Farewell Biotech, Hello Wheat!

This is the last blog that I will be writing as a Manager of Communications for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). Starting April, I will begin my new role as Director of Communications for the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG). NAWG works with wheat producers and many coalition partners from all over the country on issues related to the Farm Bill, environmental regulation, the future commercialization of emerging technologies in wheat and any common goals to improve the livelihood of producers.

I have been with BIO for more than seven years and am looking forward to this new challenge and working such at great organization. The mission of the wheat growers is to mobilize U.S. wheat farmers to advocate for beneficial policies, cultivate productive relationships with partners and the public, and champion opportunities through research, innovation, education and stewardship. As Director of Communications, I am hoping to play to an instrumental role in achieving this mission by advocating for such advances as biotech wheat.  Read “The Case for Biotech Wheat,” to learn more about how biotechnology can transform the wheat industry.

“Biotechnology has the potential to help reverse the loss of wheat acres in the United States and help ensure there will be adequate supplies to feed a hungry world,” says Darrell Davis, South Dakota Wheat commissioner and member of the U.S. Wheat Association/National Association of Wheat Growers Joint Biotechnology Committee. “The wheat industry is facing a competitiveness problem,” says Davis.

“Wheat acres are declining, and biotech crops that can produce a greater return on investment are taking over those acres. Unless the wheat industry can successfully change the equation and restore its competitiveness, wheat could become a minor crop.”

Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disorder “where the ingestion of gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine.” The “only solution for people with the disease is to follow a strict gluten-free diet for life, which involves abstaining from food made with wheat (and the other grains with gluten) and replacing these usually with food made with rice or corn flour.” This strict diet significantly increases spending on food because of the higher price of gluten-free products. An alternative is to produce a variety of gluten-free wheat. Read “Gluten-free GM wheat can help celiac patients” to learn more.

A special thanks to all of you who follow me on BIOtechNow and please continue to do so at @wheatworld while I pursue my new role at NAWG!