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Q:
Has Monsanto determined why their experimental GMO wheat has appeared unwittingly in American crops, leading some Asian countries to cancel contracts for American wheat? This is especially worrying, because Monsanto has assured use that their experiments won't contaminate the environment, but, now that assertion has been put into doubt, as it should have been all along.
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A:Expert Answer

UPDATED ANSWER

 

To update the readers to this question previously answered August 20, 2013, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that it has completed its investigation of an isolated incident involving the presence of Roundup Ready ® wheat on a commercial farmer’s field in Oregon in May 2013.  The final report was released by USDA APHIS on September 26, 2014.

 

USDA reported that there is no evidence that genetically modified wheat is in commerce or the commercial wheat seed supply.  Simply put, the USDA cannot find any presence of the genetically modified wheat anywhere. This conclusion was made after collecting and testing samples of plants and grain, completing 291 interviews with wheat growers, grain elevator operators and crop consultants, as well as interviews with field test plot researchers involved in the testing of the GE wheat. Testing was also conducted by several wheat trading partners during the last year, with no detection of the presence of GE wheat in any commercial shipment from the United States.

 

APHIS has determined that last year’s detection in Oregon appears to be isolated to a single field on a single farm.

 

All overseas markets are accepting U.S. wheat and no trade restrictions are in place as a result of last year’s detection. The USDA is confident that wheat exports will continue without disruption.

 

Completion of the USDA investigation provides closure for the wheat industry as U.S. wheat growers continue to grow their global business.  

 

For more information to the USDA statement, use this link.

A:Expert Answer

The quick answer is: no, the USDA is still conducting an investigation into the detection of GM wheat plants in one field of one farm in Oregon.  However, there is no evidence that GM wheat has appeared in the commercial wheat supply, including wheat seed, grain or flour, and all markets are currently open for the purchase of U.S. wheat. 

 

Following is more detail:

 

  • USDA is conducting an investigation, and we are looking into the situation as well.  While neither of these investigations is closed, both USDA and Monsanto have stated that all of the evidence collected thus far indicates that the presence of these GM wheat plants is an isolated occurrence on a single farm and GM wheat is not present in the commercial wheat supply.  Here is the July 29, 2013 update from USDA-APHIS.
  • The USDA, Washington State University and Monsanto have been thoroughly testing grain and wheat seed, and all of the results have been negative.  South Korea and Japan also have been testing grain and flour made from U.S. grain, with the same negative results.
  • The fact that no one has found GM wheat anywhere – in varieties, grain or flour – is the basis for USDA’s statement: “There is no evidence that 71800 wheat is in commerce or in any of the other 15 states where MON71800 field tests were conducted.”
  • On July 30, 2013, Japan announced the lifting of its U.S. wheat purchase suspension. This was made possible by Japan’s review of the USDA’s investigation and the negative test results experienced by its own in-country testing.  All markets are now open for the purchase of U.S. wheat.
  • Regarding the second part of your question, USDA’s oversight of field trials on GM crops for the last 20 years has been extremely effective. And our research teams are committed to not only meeting but exceeding USDA’s comprehensive protocols in their efforts to gather valuable scientific data on any potential new product.  There are two resources on our website that I’d recommend for additional information on both the USDA investigation into GM wheat in Oregon and our commitment to field trial compliance:
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