Representatives from across the U.S. wheat value chain met last week in Chicago for the fourth Wheat Summit. The meeting was planned primarily by National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and hosted by NAWG, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) and the American Bakers Association (ABA).

It was the fourth such event since 2006, when the first Wheat Summit was held to promote industry dialogue about the wheat crop’s competitiveness challenges.

Subsequent summits, including the one held last week, have been more targeted on specific competitiveness issues, including the need for expanded wheat research and the eventual introduction of biotechnology in the wheat crop.

While the meeting was closed to the press and those outside of the wheat value chain, the four organizing associations released the following statement from their staff leads including Dana Peterson, NAWG CEO; Alan Tracy, USW president; Mary Waters, NAMA president; and Lee Sanders, ABA senior vice president.

 “We were pleased to be able to come together today for the fourth Wheat Summit meeting with our colleagues from organizations spanning the depth and breadth of the wheat chain, from seedsmen to food companies. The Wheat Summit process started with a call to the industry on wheat’s competitiveness crisis. In the five years since that first meeting, we have seen a true resurgence of interest and investment by the public and private sectors in research and development of wheat.

“Some of this new engagement stems from grower support for the eventual commercialization of biotechnology traits in wheat and some is a reaction to increased demand for plentiful, affordable and nutritious grains from a growing world population.

“Together we have identified a number of critical areas of agreement when it comes to paving the way for the responsible introduction of biotechnology. This follows our theme for the 2011 Summit – Moving Forward Together.

“As a guiding principle throughout our work, we hold as paramount the importance of choice for both the grower and the consumer. We are committed to guarding the high quality of our wheat through all technological innovations, since we know that is key to our continued competitiveness in the marketplace. Additionally, we recognize the need for reasonable tolerances to be set for biotech wheat in future non-biotech shipments.

“Our organizations will continue to work together on biotechnology issues in a variety of capacities, including work to track developments on the scientific and regulatory fronts; to educate stakeholders about the need for innovation in wheat; and to keep open the dialogue with all wheat chain participants on emerging technologies.

Go online for more about wheat’s competitiveness concerns and past Wheat Summits and for more about NAWG’s work on biotechnology.