July 22, 2018

Experimental GMO Wheat Found in Montana Field

The USDA announced last week that experimental genetically modified (GMO), or engineered (GE), wheat was found at a Montana research facility that hasn’t grown the crop since 2003. Center for Food Safety says this finding demonstrates that “coexistence” between GE crops and non-GE crops is a failed policy.

GMO LabelingAt the same time they announced this finding, the government also announced they closed the investigation into GE wheat that was found growing in Oregon last year. They have opened a new investigation into separate detection of GE wheat in Montana. The new investigation is apparently a “regulatory compliance issue.”

The GE wheat found in Montana in July 2014¬†is “significantly different” from the GE wheat that was found growing at an Oregon farm last year. There are no GE wheat varieties for sale or in production in the U.S. since APHIS hasn’t deregulated any varieties to date. None of the wheat was sold as seed.

Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety said in a statement, “once again, USDA and the biotech industry have put farmers and the food supply at risk. Coexistence between GE and non-GE crops is a failed policy that fundamentally cannot work. Genetic contamination is a serious threat to farmers across the country.”

Many countries will not allow GE crops to be imported. If GE crops contaminate non-GE crops, the livelihoods of many U.S. farmers will be endangered. The U.S. is the world’s biggest exporter of wheat, to the tune of $8 billion a year. The industry could lose up to $272 million every year if GE wheat is introduced into commerce. Monsanto dropped efforts to introduce Roundup Ready GE wheat in 2004 after objections from consumers, farmers, millers, and corporations. But they began testing the product again in 2011.

Kimbrell continues, “just as 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.”

Monsanto has conducted¬†279 field tests of herbicide-resistant wheat on more than 4,000 acres in 17 states in the past 20 years. And that company has received at least 35 notices of noncompliance in the past four years, more than any other company. Kimbrell said, “farmers, not the biotech industry, are on the hook for these contamination episodes. There must be accountability for Monsanto. USDA should, at a minimum, immediately place a moratorium on open-air field testing of genetically engineered crops.”

 

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