Kansas State University and Monsanto announced Friday a partnership that will allow them to share germplasm and technology and, ultimately, improve their wheat breeding programs.
The agreement is non-exclusive, with both parties free to form additional collaborative arrangements with other public or private entities. K-State said in its press release that it intends to work with other public wheat breeding programs as it has in the past.
The agreement has the blessing of Kansas Wheat, a cooperative agreement between the Kansas Wheat Commission, which invests heavily in K-State wheat breeding programs, and the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, the NAWG-affiliated state wheat growing association.
Kansas Wheat leaders said in a press release that wheat farmers’ investment in the K-State wheat breeding program through the wheat checkoff has been vital and will be protected through guidelines outlined in a principles document adopted by their organization, NAWG, U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Wheat Improvement Committee, a coalition of public wheat breeders.
The collaboration announced Friday will provide K-State with immediate access to advanced conventional breeding technologies, and its near-term impact will be quicker development of technology. However, the partnership also hews to the principles document, which was written specifically with biotechnology applications in mind.
There is no commercialized biotech wheat anywhere in the world, but NAWG believes biotechnology’s introduction into the wheat crop is necessary for the wheat industry to increase productivity, attract acres back to the crop and feed a growing global population in a sustainable way.
NAWG has worked with U.S. Wheat Associates, affiliated state associations and other wheat-chain organizations over the past four years to demonstrate the need for and potential value of biotechnology in the wheat crop, including through a grower survey released last year showing more than three-quarters of producers asked supported the use of tools like biotechnology to improve wheat.
Much more about this work, and the full text of the principles document, is available online at www.wheatworld.org/biotech.