NAMA-Supported Wheat Disease Research Makes ProgressAugust 22, 2002
CONTACT: James Bair, Vice President
WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 22, 2002 – The North American Millers' Association (NAMA) reacted enthusiastically to progress reported this month in developing a gene that might provide a stronger natural defense against the wheat disease Fusarium head blight. Fusarium and the toxin it can produce, deoxynivalenol (DON), have cost the wheat industry billions of dollars in recent years. NAMA is the original financial sponsor of the research, and continues that commitment today. USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducts the research.
Researchers reported constructing antifungal genes with pieces of genetic material from Fusarium. This work may be applicable for fighting other major crop pests, as well. The research is a collaborative effort led by ARS geneticist Ann E. Blechl, and is conducted at USDA/ARS labs – in Albany, California and Pullman, Washington. The scientists are seeking a patent for some of their innovative, antifungal genes.
Millers face many challenges when Fusarium, or wheat scab, is present in wheat since it also suggests the possible presence of the DON, which compromises the wholesomeness of flour.
Research to control scab has been and should continue to be multifaceted. NAMA looks forward to continuing cooperative efforts with USDA in providing the U.S. consumer and world customers with wholesome, nutritious products.
NAMA represents 41 wheat, corn and oat milling companies with 161 facilities in 38 states. The industry grinds more than 900 million bushels of wheat a year.