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Wheat Climbs Following Kremlin Attack, While “China Has Approved the Safety of a Gene-Edited Soybean”

Bloomberg writers Megan Durisin and James Poole reported today that, “Wheat and corn futures steadied after Wednesday’s jump, as markets weigh up escalating tensions in the Black Sea region against burgeoning global supply.

“Grains Steady After Surge as Markets Size Up Black Sea, Supplies,” by Megan Durisin and James Poole. Bloomberg News (May 4, 2023).

“Ukraine’s president on Wednesday denied Russian allegations that its government organized an attack on Vladimir Putin’s residence in the Kremlin. The flare-up adds to uncertainty over whether the safe corridor that allows Ukraine to export crops through the Black Sea will be extended beyond May and boosted wheat futures from a two-year low.”

The Bloomberg article pointed out that, “Still, the market is vying with good production prospects in some key growers. A large Brazilian corn harvest looms, and wheat in much of the European Union has seen favorable conditions so far this spring. The US Department of Agriculture next week will issue its first global estimates for the 2023-24 season.”

Reuters News reported yesterday that, “Russia said on Wednesday that it will keep talking to the United Nations about the future of a deal that allows the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain, but would not do anything to harm its own interests.

“Top U.N. trade official Rebeca Grynspan is due to travel to Moscow for talks on Friday about U.N. efforts to help facilitate Russia’s grain and fertilizer exports. While not subject to Western sanctions imposed over the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has complained of obstacles to such shipments.”

Also yesterday, Dow Jones writer Kirk Maltais reported that, “Claims by the Russian government that two unmanned aircraft hit the Kremlin in an attempt on President Vladimir Putin’s life introduced uncertainty into the future of the Black Sea Grains Initiative, which allows Ukraine exports to resume. The event spurred traders to cover their short positions in wheat.”

And Bloomberg writers Megan Durisin and Ugur Yilmaz reported yesterday that, “Flows could end May 18 without an agreement, Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told reporters in Ankara on Wednesday. The outcome of Turkey’s presidential election on May 14 could also play a role in the continuation of the deal, if Erdogan — an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — loses his seat.”

Reuters writer Naveen Thukral reported today that, “Chicago wheat futures climbed to a one-week high on Thursday, continuing to recover from multi-month lows, after concerns over renewed tensions between Russia and Ukraine fuelled doubts on the future of a Black Sea export corridor.”

The article noted that, “French consultancy Agritel raised its forecast for this year’s Ukrainian wheat crop to 16.34 million tonnes, from 15.04 million tonnes pegged in November, to take account of a higher-than-expected area to be harvested, it said on Wednesday.”

In more detailed reporting on the Kremlin attack, Financial Times writers Max Seddon, John Paul Rathbone and Roman Olearchyk reported yesterday that, “Russia on Wednesday accused Ukraine of attempting to assassinate President Vladimir Putin in a late-night drone attack on the Kremlin, vowing to take retaliatory action. But Kyiv denied any responsibility.

“Putin’s press service said two Ukrainian drones attacked the Kremlin overnight but were shot down by Russia’s military and secret services, which it said ‘acted in a timely fashion.'”

The FT article indicated that, “A US official said Washington was looking into the report of the attack but was unable ‘to validate its authenticity at this time.’ The official said that if the attack was conducted by Ukraine, the US had no advance knowledge or indication of it.”

Mary Ilyushina reported on the front page of today’s Washington Post that, “Among the mysteries surrounding Wednesday’s alleged attack was how two drones could have successfully reached one of the most protected buildings in Moscow’s fortified city center. While some analysts said the incident might have been a false flag attack staged by Russia, others suggested it could be a performative gesture by Ukraine, striking at a preeminent symbol of Russian state power.

The allegation of an assassination attempt — which could not be independently confirmed and was broadly rejected by military experts — was made in a statement shared by the Kremlin press service with Russian state news agencies on Wednesday afternoon.”

Los Angeles Times (Page A3 – May 4, 2023).

An Associated Press article in today’s Los Angeles Times reported that, “James Nixey, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Chatham House think tank, said ‘the two most likely possibilities are a ‘warning shot across the bows’ by Kyiv or a false-flag operation by Moscow designed to justify more intense attacks in Ukraine or more conscription.'”

Meanwhile, Reuters writer Dominique Patton reported today that,

China has approved the safety of a gene-edited soybean, its first approval of the technology in a crop, as the country increasingly looks to science to boost food production.

“The soybean, developed by privately owned Shandong Shunfeng Biotechnology Co., Ltd, has two modified genes, significantly raising the level of healthy fat oleic acid in the plant.

“The safety certificate has been approved for five years from April 21, according to a document published last week by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.”

Patton pointed out that, “Unlike genetic modification, which introduces foreign genes into a plant, gene editing alters existing genes.

“The technology is considered to be less risky than GMOs and is more lightly regulated in some countries, including China, which published rules on gene-editing last year.”

The article added that, “The approval comes as trade tensions, erratic weather and war in major grain exporter Ukraine have increased concerns in Beijing over feeding the country’s 1.4 billion people.”

China is promoting GMO crops too, starting large-scale trials of GM corn this year,” the Reuters article said.

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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