As of Jan. 1, 2016, wheat researchers will have to comply with stricter regulations on developing genetically engineered (GE) wheat. USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will require permits for field trials involving GE wheat, beginning with GE wheat planted on or after Jan. 1, 2016.
The decision to require a more stringent permit process, rather than the notification process employed in the past, will provide added protection that GE wheat will not persist in the environment after field trials are concluded, and the crop will remain confined during the trials. APHIS regulation 7 CFR part 340 specifies that in order to be eligible for notification, a field trial must be conducted so the regulated article does not persist in the environment and no offspring are produced that could persist in the environment. In addition, when the field trial ends, no viable material shall remain which is likely to volunteer (grow following the harvest of a crop) in subsequent seasons.
Read APHIS rule 7 CFR part 340.
Bringing GE wheat under permit enables APHIS to create and enforce permit conditions that minimizes the likelihood that the regulated GE wheat will spread or persist in the environment, the agency says. APHIS already requires permits for many GE organisms, including all trees, perennial grasses and sorghum.
This action is also part of an effort to strengthen the U.S. wheat export system. The permit reporting requirements help prevent possible unintended mixing with non-GE wheat that can have negative effects on trade, and reassures international trading partners that the U.S. is committed to being the world’s reliable supplier of grain.