GM wheat found in Montana

Experimental GM wheat has been found in Montana, a state where it is not approved. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), part of the US Department of Agriculture, says it is investigating the presence of genetically altered wheat plants in Montana.

The GM wheat found in Montana was engineered by Monsanto Co. to tolerate its Roundup herbicide. Monsanto has not carried out any wheat trials since 2003.

In 2013, after a farmer in Oregon discovered experimental GM wheat in his field, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea immediately stopped importing from the US due to concerns that wheat supplies might have been contaminated. Monsanto was sued by several farmers.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) said on Friday there is no evidence showing that any GM wheat has entered the commercial supply chain.

USW wrote:

“This is consistent with the results of independent testing by Japan and Korea that has not identified a single event among all classes of U.S. wheat exported to those countries.”

GM wheat

Genetically modified wheat (GM wheat) has been genetically engineered by manipulating its genome using biotechnology. It is also known as genetically engineered wheat (GE wheat).

Alan Tracy, President of USW, said he is in the process of informing international wheat buyers and does not expect any disruption in exports.

Experts say that this time round, if there is any reaction from Asian importers of US wheat, it will be much more muted than in 2013.

APHIS says it found no evidence of GE wheat in commerce (wheat bound for exportation).

In a press release on Friday, APHIS wrote:

“Additionally, APHIS has opened a new investigation into a regulatory compliance issue involving GE wheat found growing at a research facility that was the previous site of authorized fields trials in Montana. GE wheat was field-tested under PHIS’ regulatory approval at the Montana State University’s Southern Agricultural Research Center in Huntley, Montana, between 2000 and 2003. Genetic testing shows that the GE wheat at this research facility location is significantly different from the GE wheat found growing at the Oregon farm last year.”

In other words, the genetically modified wheat found growing in Oregon last year is an unsolved mystery, even as the US Agriculture Department informs of a similar incident in Montana.