Unapproved GE Wheat Found in Oregon

News broke Wednesday that a farmer in Oregon found an unapproved strain of genetically engineered wheat growing on his land. Workers had been clearing the field for the offseason when they found some wheat that did not belong. After spraying it multiple times with glyphosate without success, the farmer sent a sample off to a lab at Oregon State University, which confirmed the wheat was genetically modified.

Between 1998 and 2006, Monsanto was authorized to do over 100 field tests with the same glyphosate-resistant wheat variety, but was never approved for use because of worldwide opposition to GE wheat.

The global implications for the trading of wheat in the US could be significant. Japan has already canceled a planned purchase of 24,926 tons of US white wheat. Many Asian countries have strict limits on imports of food that has been genetically altered, with few countries allowing GE food to be imported at all.  The European Union has already said they will test incoming shipments and block anything that contains GE products.

In 2006, an experimental strain of US long grain rice, from Bayer Crop Science, contaminated crops, due to pollen transfer from an experimental plot, resulting in import bans in Europe and Japan. It is estimated that $150 million dollars were lost in exports that season.

“This discovery only heightens the need for transparency in our food system, and giving consumers the right to know what they’re eating,” said Scott Faber, Executive Director of Just Label It.

Organic farmers may also be affected, as it is mandated by federal law that organic products cannot contain GE products. The concern that seeds can blow into organic farms from other GE crops has been a prominent part of the discussion on GE crops. The discoveries of GE wheat in Oregon will only further this discussion.

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