New Argentine invention: a gene for soybeans and wheat that resists drought

By , in Science on .

Argentina is about to debut globally with the HB4 gene. The gene is resistant to drought and to saline soils applicable to wheat and soybeans. It was developed by Raquel Chan at the Universidad del Litoral, showing the integration of the scientific sector with the entrepreneur and with the contribution of the State through the Conicet. In turn, that gene is the main asset of the company Bioceres, composed of 308 members who are leading agricultural producers who bet on plant technology.

The HB4 has already been approved by the local authorities for soybeans and is about to be authorized by China, one of the main destinations for Argentine soybeans. It is necessary that the Ministry of Agribusiness approves it for the wheat in order to initiate a path that implies authorizations in the export destinations of the cereal.

In 2016 Bioceres bought 51% of Rizobacter, also from national capitals and a leader in agricultural microbiology, that is, in the treatment of seeds so that they reach their maximum productive potential. Rizobacter has an extensive commercial network that has nine subsidiaries abroad. “We expect the commercial launch of HB4 in less than a year”, anticipates Clarín Jorge Wagner, director of Rizobacter.

-Missing?

-With the authorization of the Chinese regulatory authorities at the end of this year may be marketed in soy. It is delayed in wheat due to the delay in the approval of the Argentine authorities of genetically modified wheat seed. It would be the first genetically modified wheat in the world. And it would be a pity if we can not move forward with our researchers and technology and expand it to the world. Otherwise we will end up buying it from another supplier

-Bioceries with Rizobacter were going to go to the stock market but the volatility prevented it. Are the plans delayed?

-The market conditions are not favorable but it is nothing that we have not lived in these 40 years of Rizobacter. We have tanned leather and long-term vision.

-How do you observe the producers in this campaign?

– Avid to receive technology, we see it healthy, it is capitalized but it has specialized a lot in the financial field. The market conditions makes companies finance producers and distributors and what they do is look for the best technology at the best price and a financing plan. Before they saw above all the quality and today everything counts.

-You are a company with national capitals and compete with giants like Bayer-Monsanto or Syngenta, now of Chinese capitals and the Dow-Dupont merger. How do they do?

-Our advantage is to be close to the needs at the right time. We reinvest everything in research and development. The Argentine producer is prone to the new technology developed in the country.