USDA: Illegal GMO Wheat Found in Oregon

May 29, 2013 09:33 AM

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NAWG and US Wheat Associates issue statement

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

A genetically engineered strain of wheat that was never approved for commercial use was found growing in a farmer's field in Oregon, according to USDA, who said officials have not yet identified the source of the wheat and have yet to determine how widespread the problem may be.

Monsanto Co. developed the strain, which is resistant to glyphosate herbicide, but ceased field trials after 2005 and withdrew its petition to USDA to deregulate the trait and clear it for production, according to USDA.

The wheat strain poses no risk to human or animal health, USDA said, noting an earlier FDA evaluation of the strain. However, USDA officials have notified Canada and Mexico and other trading partners of the finding. The The incident is being investigated under the Pest Protection Act, which provides for fines up to $1 million for violations of the department's regulations. Criminal penalties also are possible.

Link to USDA Q&A on topic.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Wheat Growers and US Wheat Associates issued the following statement:

The National Association of Wheat Growers and US Wheat Associates were notified Wednesday that USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed that a genetically-modified, glyphosate-resistant wheat variety that Monsanto field tested from 1998 to 2005 was present in volunteer wheat on one farm in Oregon.


APHIS included a statement about the safety of this trait in its report today and confirmed that the material detected is as safe for food and feed use as non-biotech wheat varieties now on the market. In addition, APHIS stated that at this time, there is no information that indicates that this regulated trait has entered the commercial supply chain.

"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.

Although a Roundup Ready trait for wheat was never commercialized, in 2004 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded that the Roundup Ready trait in wheat did not pose a health risk in food or animal feed. We are confident that US wheat, wheat flour and wheat foods remain safe, wholesome and nutritious for people around the world.

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.

We appreciate our customers standing with us while we monitor the investigation, and we will share additional information as soon as it becomes available.



NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.



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