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Argentina first nation to OK drought-resistant GMO wheat

Wheat Harvest In Russia's Omsk Region
A combine harvests wheat

Argentina on Friday formally became the first country in the world to approve the use of drought-resistant genetically modified (GMO) wheat.

But the resolution in the official gazette said the seeds cannot be sold before Brazil, Argentina’s main wheat buyer, approves importation of the product.

“The transgenic wheat HB4 developed by Bioceres and the French Florimond Desprez has tolerance to droughts and the herbicide glufosinate sodium,” the gazette said.

No countries have yet approved importation of GMO wheat, leaving Argentine farmers with little incentive to plant the new variety. Environmental groups have warned that not enough is yet known about GMO crops, treated with weed killers like glufosinate sodium, for them to be safely consumed by humans.

Last year, 45% of the 11.3 million tonnes of wheat exported by Argentina went to neighboring Brazil, which has not commented on the prospects of it approving purchase of HB4 wheat.

Even a green light from Brazil would not trigger Bioceres SA to immediately commercially launch the new technology before getting approval from other markets, CEO Federico Trucco told Reuters on Thursday.

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