Strategic alliance to improve opportunities for Australian grain

by Teresa Acklin
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   MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Three of Australia's leading agricultural bodies recently announced a strategic research alliance designed to generate plant biotechnology research and commercialization opportunities for Australian grain.

   The alliance, called Graingene, involves AWB Ltd., the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the Grain Research and Development Corp.

   “Graingene will help Australia develop a strong, strategic position in the plant biotechnology field, particularly in wheat and other grains, and also will enhance Australia's competitive position in these technologies,” said Trevor Flugge, chairman of AWB Ltd.

   John Lovett, G.R.D.C. managing director, said that if Australia's wheat yields are increased by just 0.5% as an outcome of the joint venture, Australian grain producers stand to gain increased harvests worth about A$15 million (U.S.$10 million) each year. Links have already been developed between Graingene and some of Australia's major crop-breeding programs, he said.

   Research will focus on genomics, new breeding and product specification technologies, yield increase and performance traits, resistance to pests and diseases, crop nutrition and abiotic stress and product quality.