Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Wheat Not Approved for Commercial Planting, Found on Farm
Criticism surrounding Monsanto continues to grow as a new scandal broke out against the biotech giant on Wednesday. After strains of wheat were found growing “like a weed” on a farm in Oregon, tests conducted by the Department of Agriculture determined it to be genetically engineered, tracing it back to a Monsanto experiment that took place between 1998 and 2005.
But the discovery of the genetically modified wheat raises many questions since the experiment was said to come to an end after never being approved for commercial planting in the U.S. or overseas.
According to the U.S. Department of Agricultural, the wheat was “developed by Monsanto to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup”—containing glyphosate, which can be toxic to the environment and a health risk to people—and “field-tested in 16 states, including Oregon,” never went to production. The “Roundup Ready” crop recently found on an unnamed farm is currently under investigation to figure out how the mysterious genetically modified wheat re-appeared eight years after Monsanto dropped it.
The farmer, who said he found the wheat unexpectedly growing on his farm, sprayed it with Roundup, and when the “impossible” happened, he sent the surviving samples of wheat to a laboratory for testing. As the U.S. is concerned about how the wheat strain “escaped protocols,” according to Reuters, officials said the crop poses no health-threats since reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004.
While the Department of Agriculture is unsure if any of the genetically modified wheat was part of the recent food supply or crop shipments, Monsanto said that if the tests prove to be true, they could assure that it is “very limited.” But many wheat exporters suspended American wheat imports; Japan being one of them.
Since about 90 percent of wheat grown in Oregon is exported worldwide and generates “half a billion dollars in revenue each year,” this poses an exceptional threat to American agriculture, according to the Department of Agriculture.
The ongoing investigation raises many questions for officials and gives activists continuing reason to boycott GMO, but through it all, Monsanto stands behind its products claiming “a history of safe use,” according to a statement published on Monsanto.com. No matter what comes of the investigation, the fact is that genetically modified wheat, a product of Monsanto, was found illegally growing on an Oregon farm.