One Case Closes, Another Opens

Unsure of the origins of a rogue crop found on an Oregon farm, the US Department of Agriculture is following up on a second issue related to genetically engineered wheat.

Sep 29, 2014
Tracy Vence

WIKIMEDIA, DAVID MONNIAUXAfter months of investigation, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has closed the case of the genetically engineered (GE) wheat an Oregon farmer mysteriously found growing in his fields last year. In a September 26 statement, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said it had “concluded that the presence of the GE wheat”—a variety called Roundup Ready, produced by Monsanto to be resistant to its herbicide Roundup—“appears to be an isolated incident.” In its investigation, the agency found no evidence that the modified wheat had entered the marketplace—a finding APHIS said was “critical . . . to trading partners to keep foreign wheat markets open.”

How the plant arrived on the farm remains a mystery, however. “After exhausting all leads, APHIS was unable to determine exactly how the GE wheat came to grow in the farmer’s field,” the agency said.

The agency added that it’s now investigating the appearance of GE wheat at Montana State University’s Southern Agricultural Research Center, where the crop was grown as part of government-approved field trials from 2000 to 2003. APHIS said the appearance of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready wheat in the two states were isolated incidents.

Hat tip: NPR’s The Salt