Monsanto describes find of genetically-engineered wheat as ‘suspicious’

Photo courtesy of USDA

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SALEM, Ohio — Monsanto is describing the discovery of Roundup Ready wheat in Oregon as “suspicious” in its latest update.

Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer Dr. Robb Fraley held a conference call with reporters June 21 to discuss what the company has found while investigating the incidence of Roundup Ready wheat.

Related: USDA says they can’t locate any more genetically engineered wheat in Oregon

Fraley said all of the information collected so far confirms the wheat incident is limited to a single field on a single farm in Oregon.

He stated there is no indication that the CP4 event is present in commercial seed or grain. (The CP4 gene is the protein responsible for making plants Roundup Ready. The same gene is found in corn, soybeans and canola.)

Fraley concluded that the incidence of the genetically-engineered wheat is suspicious because it appears to be an isolated occurrence. He went to add the wheat cannot be explained by seed contamination or normal farming practices.

The wheat discovered in the field in Oregon was not found to be growing in a row as most wheat grows and is harvested. Instead it was found to be growing as volunteer plants in the field.

He said all evidence collected so far suggests that more investigation is needed as to how the wheat got there and where it came from.

Background

In April, an Oregon farmer discovered and reported a small number of volunteer wheat plants that were glyphosate-resistant.

USDA began an investigation May 3 when an Oregon State University scientist notified USDA’s officials that plant samples they had tested positive for a protein that made them resistant to glyphosate.

The USDA announced the findings May 29 after the wheat tested positive for genetically engineered glyphosate-resistance. The USDA confirmed that extensive testing showed the wheat as variety – MON71800 – developed by Monsanto.

Pure seed supply

Monsanto officials said their tests, combined with the broad-scale testing of Washington State University, have found no presence of the CP4 (Roundup Ready) event in the wheat seed stock.

Monsanto has tested the seed for 58 varieties which presented more than 80 percent of all the acres of soft white wheat seed varieties grown in the Oregon and Washington region for 2011 and found no evidence of the CP4 event in wheat.

Washington State University has also confirmed that they have screened public and private varieties representing 90 percent Washington’s soft white wheat crop and found no evidence of glyphosate-resistant wheat. Testing by Monsanto and Washington State University of the presentative samples of the known white wheat varieties planted in Oregon in 2011 represents over 97 percent of those acres.

USDA

As of June 24, the USDA reported they have no updates on the wheat situation. The USDA reported that all tests performed in relation to the investigation have came up negative for the gene.

The USDA also noted that they have not found any genetically engineered wheat in commerce.

Tests performed by the USDA have included tests of the seed originally planted on the 123-acre Oregon farm as well as grain harvested from it in 2012.

The USDA also reported they conducted numerous tests in adjoining fields and that no other genetically-engineered plants were discovered.

Lawsuit

So far no other farmers have joined the lawsuit Ernest Barnes, of Morton County, Kan., filed against Monsanto June 3 in the United States District Court in Kansas.

Barnes is a wheat farmer who filed the lawsuit after wheat prices fell due to the discovery of the genetically modified wheat.

Neither the United States nor its trading partners have approved genetically modified wheat for human consumption.

About the Author

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96. More Stories by Kristy Foster Seachrist

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