America's amber waves of grain may soon go high-tech. Syngenta
Admittedly, the path of GM crops is a perilous one. Monsanto
But Syngenta stands to a good chance of succeeding where Monsanto failed. First of all, Syngenta's offering is seen as providing more benefit than Monsanto's wheat seed. Monsanto's wheat was a Roundup Ready version of the grain; it allowed farmers to use Roundup and other glyphosate herbicides to kill weeds in growing wheat fields. Syngenta's wheat, meanwhile, is resistant to fusarium disease; the fungal blight cost U.S. agriculture more than $2.6 billion in losses during wheat scab epidemics in the 1990s and has appeared in crops worldwide, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In addition, attitudes toward genetically modified wheat appear to be changing. U.S. wheat interests increasingly see the success of GM corn and soybeans as one of the factors behind declining acres of wheat plantings, according to Capital Press Agricultural Weekly. As a result, they are coming to believe adoption of genetically altered wheat is the only way to be competitive.
Syngenta remains under the radar for most investors, but if the company presses ahead with its GM wheat project, it's not likely to stay that way for long.
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Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.