A farmer in Oregon has discovered unauthorized genetically modified wheat plants on his farm, raising concerns about trade with countries that refuse to import GM foods. The farmer tried to kill the wheat plants between harvests but they were resistant to glyphosate, a herbicide, The Guardian reports. It turns out agri-giant Monsanto tested a strain of glyphosate-resistant wheat seeds in sixteen US states between 1998 and 2005, but they were never approved, and never made it to market.
While there is plenty of genetically modified corn and soy in the United States, no authorized GM wheat crops exist, and authorities are concerned about the ramifications this rogue crop will have for trade. Oregon State University ran tests and the USDA confirmed that the strain found in the farmer’s field is identical to a seed Monsanto tested with FDA approval in 100 fields across the United States.
It is uncertain whether the wheat was planted or if the seeds blew into the field – the worst nightmare of organic farmers across the United States. And if the wheat has infiltrated one field, chances are it would have blown into scores more though the US Agriculture Department insists it is safe to eat and there is no evidence that genetically modified wheat has entered the market.
Oregon department of agriculture director Katy Coba said in a statement that the discovery is “a very serious development that could have major trade ramifications,” according to The Guardian, which adds that the state exports roughly 90% of its wheat.
“I am concerned that a highly regulated plant material such as genetically modified wheat somehow was able to escape into a crop field,” she said.
Will Monsanto be held to account if farms across the US have been contaminated?