As war, drought hit global crops, Argentina gambles on GM wheat

Wheat plants genetically modified with a strain called HB4, which have a gene that helps them better tolerate drought, are pictured in a farm in Pergamino, Buenos Aires, Argentina, earlier this summer.

PERGAMINO, Argentina — In fields near Argentine farm town Pergamino, spiky green shoots of wheat stretch in neat rows to the horizon, a crop developers hope will boost yields of the grain thanks to a single gene borrowed from sunflowers helping it better tolerate drought.

Reached along a dusty farm track, the field is one of dozens of sites growing a genetically modified (GM) wheat strain called HB4, developed by local firm Bioceres and state scientists. Argentina, the world’s No. 6 wheat exporter, gave commercial planting approval to HB4 in 2020. It was the first GM wheat strain in the world to receive such approval.

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