WASHINGTON — So far, so good.
The USDA issued an update June 14 saying it has not found any more volunteer stands of genetically engineered wheat in Oregon.
In April, an Oregon farmer discovered and reported a small number of volunteer wheat plants that were glyphosate-resistant.
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.
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.
As of June 14, USDA has neither found nor been informed of anything that would indicate that this incident amounts to more than a single isolated incident in a single field on a single farm.
All information collected so far shows no indication of the presence of genetically engineered wheat in commerce.
Investigators interviewed the person that harvested the wheat from this field, as well as the seed supplier who sold the producer wheat seed. They also obtained samples of the wheat seed sold to the producer and other growers; and obtained samples of the producer’s wheat harvests, including a sample of the producer’s 2012 harvest.
All of these samples of seed and grain tested negative for the presence of genetically engineered material.
Investigators are continuing to conduct interviews with approximately 200 area growers.
USDA validated an event-specific PCR (DNA-based) method for detecting MON71800 (provided by Monsanto) on June 13, and determined the method can reliably detect MON71800 when it is present at a frequency of 1 in 200 kernels.
Additionally, USDA has provided this validated DNA test method to detect this specific genetically engineered variety to U.S. trading partners that have requested it.
Major markets, such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan, have postponed imports of U.S. white wheat as they continue to study information from U.S. officials to determine what, if any, future action may be required.
No more lawsuits filed
Meanwhile, no other lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto since a Kansas farmer did June 7.
According to court records, there are no other plaintiffs added to the lawsuit and no dates have been set in the case.
According to the court documents, the farmer alleges gross negligence after the discovery of genetically modified wheat in Oregon.
The lawsuit goes on to claim that Monsanto knowingly tested genetically engineered wheat in fields and did so knowing that the release of its experimental seeds into the general wheat population could cause the loss of huge domestic and export markets.
No threats to food
The detection of this wheat variety does not pose a public health or food safety concern.
Monsanto worked with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004 to complete a voluntary food and feed safety consultation. Completion of the FDA consultation process means this variety is as safe as non-genetically engineered wheat currently on the market.