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Governments support new wheat ID technology

Nov. 16, 2009 -The governments of Canada and Saskatchewan have joined forces with the Saskatchewan Research Council to announce an investment of nearly $9.0 million to commercialize a DNA-based wheat identification process, providing a cost-effective and consistent method with a 24-hour turnaround.


November 16, 2009
By Canada News Wire Group

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Nov. 16, 2009 

Saskatoon, Sask. -The Governments of Canada and the Saskatchewan together with the Saskatchewan Research Council announced today their investment of almost $9 million in the commercialization of a DNA-based process for wheat identification.
 

"Saskatchewan has been a leader in developing cutting edge technology such as the wheat ID, to boost one of our largest economic engines; agriculture," Minister Cheveldayoff said. "We want to build on our knowledge economy by commercializing technologies developed through our innovation system and market that to users around the world."

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"Our government is delivering real results for Canadian farmers by investing in innovative research and new technologies that will help increase their profitability," said MP Brad Trost (Saskatoon-Humboldt) on behalf of Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "We are proud to collaborate with provinces on projects, such as this one, that contribute to the future competitiveness and prosperity of our entire agricultural sector."


This advanced DNA-based technology, initially developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists and licensed to SRC, may provide a cost-effective and consistent testing method to identify different wheat varieties and classes in a 24-hour turnaround time. This development could help fill the gap created by the removal of the Kernel Visual Distinguishability (KVD) test, which was used as a class identification tool and a requirement for registration until 2008. This new technology will help Canada stay competitive by maintaining its reputation for providing high-quality products to national and international markets.


"We've supported this project with both funding and expertise because farmers need a test that assures customers we are providing safe, high-quality grain," said Larry Hill, chair of the CWB's board of directors. "This support will help ensure that farmers get the best possible returns for their wheat."


The SRC is currently validating a DNA-based test that verifies midge insect resistance in wheat varieties. Next SRC will be working to determine whether the technology can be utilized to offer viable commercial tests for wheat class and variety identification. A team of scientists and technologists has been hired for the project.


"The federal-provincial funding provided today brings SRC a step closer to offering a commercial wheat DNA test," said Dr. Laurier Schramm, SRC's Chief Executive Officer. "SRC is dedicated to proving out the technology and, if viable, offering this service to help the agriculture industry maintain Canada's brand reputation for high quality products and competitiveness in international grain markets."


To support the project, the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan are investing up to $7.43 million over five years through a cost-sharing agreement under the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's AgriFlexibility fund. A shared federal-provincial investment of $1.48 million made through the Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA) this year will enable SRC to purchase equipment, software and scale up the testing process. The total investment in this work over the next 5 years is $8.91 million. In partnership with the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council, the CWB has contributed an additional $392,000 earmarked for developmental work on choosing an appropriate form of DNA testing.


The AgriFlexibility fund, part of Canada's Economic Action Plan, was created to help reduce costs of production and improve environmental sustainability for the sector; promote value-chain innovation and sectoral adaptation; and respond to emerging opportunities and market challenges for the sector.


Through the Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA), both levels of government are contributing $25 million each, over four years, to strengthen economic activity and improve quality of life in western Canadian communities.