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GM wheat plants discovered in Washington State

Grain Central, June 10, 2019

GENETICALLY engineered (GE) wheat plants have been discovered growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington State in the United States.

Confirming the discovery, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said the GE wheat in question was resistant to the herbicide glyphosate.

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:

  • there is no evidence suggesting that this wheat event, or any other GM wheat event has entered US commercial supplies or entered the food supply;
  • there are no GE wheat varieties for sale or in commercial production in the United States at this time, as APHIS has not deregulated any GE wheat varieties;
  • there is no health risk associated with glyphosate resistance events in wheat based on US Food and Drug Administration evaluations.

“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

 

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