Wheat field

More than 150 farmers and food-related businesses and organizations are requesting that the USDA require stronger oversight on experimental field trials of genetically modified crops, reports Reuters.

The group includes members of the organic and natural food industry, family farmers and trade policy organizations who feel the “disarray” that ensued after GMO wheat was discovered in May is an example of why GMO field trial regulations need to change.

Genetically modified wheat was discovered growing “mysteriously” in an Oregon wheat field in May. The discovery hurt wheat farmers across the country who rely on wheat exports. Several countries with GMO restrictions, including Japan, South Korea and EU member states temporarily stopped purchasing U.S. wheat as a result of the discovery or enforced stricter testing requirements before accepting wheat exports. Lawsuits were filed for damages by U.S. farmers.  Both Monsanto, the manufacturer of the seed, and the USDA have not been quite able to pinpoint the exact source of the seeds, which were never approved and pulled from trials a decade ago because of international concern over genetically modified wheat.

“There are major weaknesses in USDA’s oversight of experimental field trials, including how unauthorized crops are contained,” the group said in a statement.

“Current U.S. policy includes neither mandatory contamination prevention measures nor an adequate system for monitoring the success of containment following trials,” the group said. “Improvements in regulations and oversight must start at the field trial stage.”

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Image: Stuck in Customs