Genetically engineered wheat has been found growing across three acres in Montana. This represents the second incident in the U.S. regarding unregulated genetically modified being grown, after authorities in 2013 found plants in Oregon growing across more than 100 acres.
The USDA said that the recent incident in Montana was of a smaller scale than the one found last year in Oregon, which led to Asian countries, such as South Korea and Japan, temporarily banning the import of US wheat and the European Union asking for more rigorous testing of US shipments.
The USDA has also said that while genetically modified wheat is not approved for commercial production or sale in the U.S., it poses no safety threat. Foreign countries are increasingly skeptical about genetically modified wheat, despite allowing other engineered crops, such as corn, likely as wheat is commonly used in processed food products.
In Huntley, Montana, modified wheat was being legally tested by Monsanto around 11 years ago, which could explain why they were found in the area.
However, in Oregon the plants had never been subject to testing, which begs the question of how they got there.
Authorities are currently investigating the Montana modified wheat, which is of a different variety than the modified wheat that was being grown in Oregon.
Despite the wheat being ‘safe’ to eat, it did not enter the market.
In addition, the USDA stated that the incident in Oregon was an isolated one and there is no evidence suggesting that it was ever used in commerce.
However, executive vice-president Robb Fraley, said that the wheat was not evenly distributed across the field in Oregon, which could mean that it was sabotage.
He said that “it’s fair to say there are folks who don’t like biotechnology and would use this to create problems.”
However, there are farmers who say that these incidents can affect their livelihood and make a dent in the U.S. export market:
On Friday, Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said:
“Just as the USDA closes one fruitless investigation, it tries to bury the story of yet another contamination.”
“USDA cannot keep treating these as isolated incidents; contamination is the inevitable outcome of GE crop technology. It’s time for Congress to take definitive action.”