It would appear a case of Monsanto-made wheat gone rogue. After being contacted by an Oregon State University Scientist, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) launched an investigation of samples obtained from an Oregon farm that indicated the presence of genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-resistant wheat plant.
USDA testing has shown that the samples contained the same GE glyphosate-resistant wheat variety Monsanto was authorized to field test in 16 states from 1998 to 2005. The department noted that there are currently no GE wheat varieties approved for commercial production or sale in the U.S. or elsewhere.
“We are taking this situation very seriously and have launched a formal investigation,” Michael Firko, acting deputy administrator for APHIS’ Biotechnology Regulatory Services, said in a statement. “Our first priority is to as quickly as possible determine the circumstances and extent of the situation and how it happened. We are collaborating with state, industry, and trading partners on this situation and are committed to providing timely information about our findings. USDA will put all necessary resources towards this investigation.”
In its statement, USDA said the detection of this wheat does not pose a food safety concern, and that it has found no indication that this GE wheat has entered the commercial supply chain.
But some reports raise trade concerns. The Associated Press cites the appearance of this unapproved GE wheat as a potential threat to trade with countries that regulate genetically modified foods strictly.
Reacting to the USDA news, the National Association of Wheat Growers today said: “We are confident that U.S. wheat, wheat flour, and wheat foods remain safe, wholesome, and nutritious for people around the world.”