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Industry Response to Unapproved GE Wheat

May 30, 2013
By: Ben Potter, Farm Journal Technology Editor
wheat harvest 2
  

Unapproved genetically engineered glyphosate-resistant wheat was found this week in an Oregon field. Here are industry reactions.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced May 29 that it has found genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-resistant wheat plants in an Oregon field. The farmer who initially made the discovery had sprayed volunteer plants with Roundup and the plants survived.

The problem with this, of course, is that no genetically engineered wheat varieties are approved for general planting. This is a story that is just beginning to unfold, and AgWeb will report updates on the investigation as they become available.
 
Meantime, here are the first responses from several industry entities. Portions of the NAWG and Monsanto statements that AgWeb deemed redundant were removed, but you can read the statements in their entirety here and here. Additionally, you can read an extensive Q&A from APHIS about the situation here.

USDA

Test results of plant samples from an Oregon farm indicate the presence of genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-resistant wheat plants. Further testing by USDA laboratories indicate the presence of the same GE glyphosate-resistant wheat variety that Monsanto was authorized to field test in 16 states from 1998 to 2005. APHIS launched a formal investigation after being notified by an Oregon State University scientist that initial tests of wheat samples from an Oregon farm indicated the possible presence of GE glyphosate-resistant wheat plants.

The detection of this wheat variety does not pose a food safety concern. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed a voluntary consultation on the safety of food and feed derived from this GE glyphosate-resistant wheat variety in 2004. FDA completed the voluntary consultation with no further questions concerning the safety of grain and forage derived from this wheat, noting that this variety was as safe as any non-GE wheat currently on the market.

USDA officials say they are taking this situation very seriously and have launched a formal investigation.

National Association of Wheat Growers

"Roundup Ready" crops have been genetically modified to include a gene that works to make that crop resistant to the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate, also known by its branded name, Roundup. No Roundup Ready wheat, or any other genetically modified wheat, has been authorized by USDA for commercial sale in the United States or anywhere else in the world.

Monsanto did conduct research on Roundup Ready spring wheat in the past, but withdrew its application for deregulation of the trait in wheat in 2004. APHIS will be investigating this detection to determine how this trait appeared outside of a regulated environment. We expect the regulatory authority’s investigation will give us additional details about the situation and any appropriate actions that may be needed.

We know it is important to understand how this situation occurred, and we have confidence that APHIS will be able to determine that as soon as possible. Nothing is more important than the trust we’ve earned with our customers at home and around the world by providing a reliable supply of high-quality wheat. As industry leaders, we will cooperate with authorities in the United States and international markets to understand the facts surrounding this incident and help minimize its impact.

Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba

The confirmation of wheat in Oregon that carries the trait of genetically modified resistance to glyphosate has triggered an appropriately thorough investigation by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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RELATED TOPICS: Wheat, Crops, Research, USDA, Genetics, Seed

 
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