After the last drought that “burned” agricultural and livestock production for 3 years, the productive system noticed the real impact of climate change on the producer’s pocket and tax collection. Food production must address the specific threat of extreme events occurring with increasing frequency.
In this sense, the scientific progress recorded by the team led by Dr. Raquel Chan is a big step for Argentina. According to Dr. Fernanda González (INTA EEA Pergamino, CITNOBA CONICET-UNNOBA), HB4 “is the first transgenic event released in wheat; it is a gene from Conicet, and through Raquel Chan’s group at UNL and later to the public. in a private partnership with Bioceres, it is possible to include crops such as wheat and soybeans.
To the field. The scientist said “This is a very important milestone, because usually this type of research takes place at the plant model level, and it is very difficult from the research area to jump and make it accessible to researchers.” producers, so this is an important first milestone.
Later, he emphasized that this gene allows to stabilize the yield of plants in a drought situation, where the yield tends to decrease, and that it is “very important in the context of climate change where we are, where extreme events will become more and more frequent (drought or flooding). We also see that heat waves will become more and more frequent, and this gene will also improve the tolerance of heat stress in crops. , and that would be great.”
González admits that this is the line they are working on now, with someone joining the group to study this interaction between drought and thermal stress, which are “quite complex” processes.
Due to the doubts raised by the industry, the specialist emphasized that, in terms of cooking quality, this material has no changes or effects. “It’s not found in its quality or gluten, and that’s important too because you have the final cooking quality like any other wheat.” In addition, he emphasized that the material must go through the strict control of official organizations for approval. “These registration processes and their effects on food quality and safety are all regulated. The state checks all of them with the same quality as any other wheat.”
Challenges of all kinds
Asked about the personal and professional challenges of being part of this prestigious team, he acknowledged that in personal terms, it was an interesting job. “We reached the end of the process of a joint project funded by the science promotion agency that wanted to study at the development level, and there I inserted myself as an eco-physiologist in the group. I was very interested; it was a challenge. to try to understand the fine molecular and physiological process (beyond the fact that we know that it stabilizes the crops). the genes and the route of what they do in Arabidopsis” (a plant used as a control), but “we want to know it better in other more complex plants like wheat: the fine molecular bases of what is happening. down there.
This is a very important technology to see what is coming in terms of climate change, which we are feeling more and more with extreme events often. In addition, good mechanisms open the doors to other questions, such as understanding that network and discovering other genes, and are used to further analyze the performance.
Finally, regarding the doubts that continue around the world about genetically modified crops, it is clear. “It has not been proven that transgenic wheat is harmful to health; all analyses of food safety or cooking quality have been carried out, and there is nothing to say that this wheat is harmful to human health. I am also convinced that each of you is free. to choose and consume what you want. The decision not to consume GMOs should be respected, and for me, labeling and recognition are important, but the truth is that currently, science shows that it is the same as using any other material.
Dr. González will be part of a block called “Public and Private Challenges” with the vice president of INTA “Pilu” Giraudo next Friday, February 16, in the city of Leones, Córdoba, within the framework of the new edition of the National Holiday of Wheat.