A group of entities of the wheat chain in Argentina considers that drought-resistant wheat, approved by the national government, “puts exports at risk cereal grains and their flour, as well as pellets, starch, gluten, baked goods, noodles and all products of the second processing where there are thousands of SMEs that act in this chain ”.
The warning was expressed in a joint release of cereal bags Buenos Aires, Bahía Blanca, Córdoba, Chaco, Entre Ríos, Santa Fe and Rosario, the four entities of the Liaison table and other entities linked to cereal: millers, brokers and exporters.
As the third official endorsement of HB4 wheat was signed, through the Resolution 41/2020 by the Secretary of Food, Bioeconomy and Regional Development, Marcelo Alós, the entities questioning the measure consider that “the Ministry of Agriculture must assume the responsibilities of the direct consequences that can generate economic and commercial costs for all wheat producers, as well as for all the internal and export marketing and transformation links ”.
Despite questioning the approval, this group of entities indicated that “support national science, technological innovation and services that continue to be carried out in our country, with a vocation to contribute to economic and social development, and protecting the environment ”.
They have no doubt that “HB4 wheat has no environmental or public health risks, and that SENASA and CONABIA have carried out technical studies that confirm this.
But “they are struck by the fact that the Government decides unilaterally, without consulting the representatives of the wheat chain, on commercial approval. Furthermore, many of us We sent notes with contributions and opinions to the Minister of Agriculture and no response was received”.
After describing this vision, they adduce the “economic and social duty to defend the wheat chain against commercial risks that may arise”, within the framework of “a world wheat market that reaches 175 million tons per year and that of flour at 18 million-, both of which are entirely non-transgenic, a condition that differentiates it from the corn, soybean and cotton markets. Years ago, several countries around the world tried to launch events in wheat, which could not prosper due to the negative reaction of the buying markets. That is why this approval has special and highly risky conditions ”.
They also question that “the government put a single condition, which is the prior approval of Brazil” but “for several years now, Argentine wheat exports have diversified destinations, from exporting to 23 markets in 2015 to 54 countries in 2019 and markets are expected to continue to expand. This diversification of the markets is strategic because it reduces dependence on the mono-market concept and allows Argentina to maintain competitive prices for its producers, and improve the foreign exchange income in critical months where wheat is the only source of income for the country “.
They refer to the summer months, between the harvest of this cereal, which in our country occurs to a greater extent in December, until the harvest of coarse grains, which begins warmly in February with some early corn and takes off in April with the soybean crop, the highest value crop, among the top three in Argentina. While Wheat averages 20 million tons of production in our country, at an international value of $ 215, soybeans and corn have had a local harvest of around 50 million in recent years. The oilseed is reaching a price of 400 dollars per ton in Chicago, although between the retentions and the exchange rate, producers today have the equivalent of 130 dollars blue. In the case of corn, the global price currently exceeds 150 US $ / t.
In this campaign, drought would alter those numbers; Drops in yields are already discounted, and shortages could encourage price hikes.
In this context, the wheat chain maintains that the diversity of external markets requires “that our country must monitor and await the approval of biotechnological events in more than one relevant destination for our exports. In 2015, 86% of our sales of Wheat was going to Brazil, so it seemed reasonable to maintain a mirror policy with that country when approving events in this product. “ Now, Brazil represents about 45% of total wheat sales to the world, whereby ask to take into account other importing countries of wheat that have a regulatory framework on the matter.
Regarding the internal consumption, argued that “the Argentine market has no experience in consuming transgenic wheat, and there are already requests from national and international food companies that operate in our country to buy only non-transgenic flour or wheat.”
Thus They believe that “the national commercial use of HB4 wheat will impact prices and the supply of wheat in the country. The damage that would occur to the Argentine wheat market would be irreparable and irreversible, since contamination will spread and segmentation is unfeasible. Joint efforts (public / private) made to consolidate new markets and strongly expand exports would be put at risk ”.