September 28, 2022

Unapproved Genetically Engineered Wheat Found Growing in Oregon

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced this week that genetically engineered glyphosate-resistant wheat plants have been found growing in Oregon. This is the same Roundup resistant wheat variety that was field-tested by Monsanto from 1998 to 2005 but was rejected. There are no GMO wheat varieties approved for sale or commercial production in this country or anywhere else at this time.

Farm FieldWhile this discovery is not a food safety concern, it does highlight one of the concerns of the anti-GMO movement: that these altered genes will find their way into other wild plants. THe FDA, meanwhile, states that “this variety is as safe as non-GE wheat currently on the market.”

This discovery may mean that the Plant Protection Act has been violated. This law states that genetically engineered plants are presumed to be “plant pests” and should be regulated until APHIS finds they are not a threat. Penalties for violating the Act including fines up to $1 million and possible criminal prosecution.

Meanwhile, on May 30, 2013 the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries announced it would suspend imports of western white and feed wheat produced in Oregon. Hiromi Iwahama, director for grain trade and operation at the ministry of agriculture said, “we have suspended imports of wheat produced in Oregon and surrounding areas as we cannot rule out the possibility that supplies containing unapproved crops may enter Japan.”

Michael Firko, acting deputy administrator for APHIS’ Biotechnology Regulatory Services said, “we are taking this situation very seriously and have launched a formal investigation. Our first priority is to as quickly as possible determine the circumstances and extent of the situation and how it happened.”


  1. Blanche Nonken says

    Rail cars are not necessarily leak-proof. A few years ago I lived along a Northern California rail line, one that was used by Southern Pacific – and it was not unusual to find little deposits of wheat here and there where the trains would stop. There’s probably some small amount of spillage in content transfers too. Not exactly the kind of thing where you can guarantee tracking on every single grain or seed from the dirt to the final destination.

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