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Argentine firms ink deal to produce genetically modified wheat-based foods

BUENOS AIRES, May 9 (Reuters) - Argentine biotech company Bioceres and local food company Havanna have signed an agreement to produce food based on genetically modified HB4 wheat, the firms said in a joint statement on Sunday.

The country is interested in increasing production by way of genetically modified HB4 wheat, which is resistant to droughts. The South American grains powerhouse is already awash with the genetically modified soybeans that have made Argentina the world's top exporter of soymeal livestock feed.

Some scientists have questioned whether the herbicide used with HB4 is safe for the environment and consumers.

"The food products will be made under the Havanna brand and will offer the highest level of information to the consumer regarding the ​​origin of the wheat, the environmental footprint generated," the companies said in the joint statement.

Havanna is a major brand of desserts and sweets from Argentina, particularly "alfajores" filled with dulce de leche.

Last year the Argentine government gave approval to farmers to produce HB4 wheat.

(Reporting by Maximilian Heath and Nicolas Misculin, writing by Hugh Bronstein; editing by Diane Craft)

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