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AgriFlexibility Backs Sask. Wheat ID Technology

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Anew DNA-based process to identify wheat varieties, designed with hopes that it will take over where the now-scrapped kernel visual distinguishability (KVD) standard left off, has picked up nearly $9 million in public funds.

The federal and Saskatchewan governments will provide up to $7.43 million through the cost-shared AgriFlexibility fund, plus another $1.48 million through the Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA), over the next five years toward commercialization of the new system.

The DNA-based technology, which was first developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists, could give the grain industry a “cost-effective and consistent” method to identify different wheat varieties and classes in a 24-hour turnaround time, the governments said in a release.

AAFC’s research project has found single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) as a DNA analysis method to distinguish between Canadian wheat classes.

The Saskatchewan Research Council’s (SRC) GenServe Laboratories has licensed AAFC’s technology, to validate its use as a tool for varietal ID in wheat.

GenServe is a genetics facility that already provides DNA tests for agriculture crops and livestock, including animal parentage verification, gene mapping and DNA fingerprinting for plant varieties.

If the test can fill the gap left by KVD, which the federal government removed last year as a class identification tool and a requirement for variety registration, it could “help Canada stay competitive by maintaining its reputation for providing high-quality products to national and international markets.”

The Canadian Wheat Board, partnering with the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council (MRAC), has also put up $392,000 for developmental work on choosing an appropriate form of DNA testing.

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