GENETICALLY engineered (GE) wheat plants have been discovered growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington State in the United States.
The USDA said there was no evidence that GE wheat had entered the food supply and that investigations into the matter were ongoing.
Responding to the discovery, US grower representative bodies, US Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), said in a statement they believed APHIS was well prepared to identify additional information about the discovery and had confirmed to them that:
“We appreciate that USDA is collaborating with our organisations and our state, industry and trading partners to provide timely and transparent information about their findings as they investigate this discovery.
“We understand samples of the wheat plants from the field in Washington were sent to the USDA Federal Grain Inspection Service lab in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as USDA Agricultural Research lab in Pullman, Washington State, for testing and confirmation.
“We cannot speculate or comment about any potential market reactions until we learn more from APHIS and have a chance to discuss the situation in more detail with overseas customers. Based on what we know today from APHIS, we are confident that nothing has changed the US wheat supply chain’s ability to deliver wheat that matches every customer’s specifications.”
After previous detections of GE wheat, the USDA strengthened its oversight of regulated GE wheat field trials.
APHIS now requires developers to apply for a permit for field trials involving GE wheat beginning with GE wheat planted on or after January 1, 2016.
Bringing GE wheat under permit enables APHIS to create and enforce permit conditions that ensure confinement and minimise the risk that the regulated GE wheat will persist in the environment.
Sources: USDA, USW, NAWG