Unapproved GMO Wheat Found Growing in Washington State

gmo wheat

Unapproved GMO wheat has been found growing in Washington State, the USDA said Friday. The 22 GMO wheat plants, which were found in a field that has not been planted since 2015, were tested and identified as being one of Monsanto’s experimental varieties, MON 71700. This variety was developed to withstand Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide. This is the third such discovery in the past three years.

This discovery prompted a federal and state investigation, and grain from the farmer’s other wheat fields is being tested to ensure that no GMO wheat is sold. Importers of American wheat were notified on Thursday, and the USDA says that there is no evidence that the wheat has entered the market. “It is unlikely that the wheat would present any safety concerns if present in the food supply,” the FDA told Seattle Times.

The first case of GMO wheat was discovered in 2013 in Oregon, a case that prompted certain international buyers to stop purchasing American wheat, including Japan and South Korea, the fifth largest market for the wheat. South Korea said Friday that it was planning to inspect American wheat imports for GMO wheat.

The second discovery of unapproved GMO wheat growing was found in Montana in 2014.

Monsanto says that this variety was tested in limited field trials in the Pacific Northwest from 1998 to 2000, but it was never commercialized. There are currently no commercially approved genetically modified wheat varieties in the U.S.

The USDA has validated a test developed by Monsanto to identify the wheat.

“Trading partners will get the tests. I believe that once they have those in place, they’ll continue buying,” said Glen Squires, CEO of the Washington Grain Commission, told Business Insider. “We don’t anticipate any major disruptions.”

On Friday, President Barack Obama signed the Senate’s bipartisan GMO labeling bill into law, requiring the labeling of genetically modified ingredients for the first time on a national scale.

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Fallout Starts for Wheat Farmers after GMO Wheat Found in Oregon

Wheat image via Shutterstock

Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.