Friday, November 8, 2013

Fusarium research gains $12.5 million

The federal government is investing $12.5 million in a national research program to counter fusarium in wheat.

The effort will be led by the Western Grains Research Foundation, but discoveries will be shared with wheat breeders tailoring varieties to specific markets and growing regions.

Ontario is participating in the program.

Fusarium research aimed at developing improved varieties of corn and wheat began in the 1990s. 

There were high hopes then that genetic engineering would find a quick solution by finding, then transferring, genes that would produce proteins that would block the development of fusarium mould.

Fusarium is a problem because the mould produces toxins that make the grain unfit for human consumption and problematic for inclusion in livestock and poultry rations.

A genetic solution to fusarium mould would be a huge achievement for Canadian researchers, farmers and food processors. The only question is why has it taken the federal government so long to finally put up so little money for such an obvious goal?