Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Monsanto's Unapproved GMO Wheat Found Growing in Washington State

Popular
Monsanto's Unapproved GMO Wheat Found Growing in Washington State

Monsanto's experimental genetically engineered wheat has been found growing in a field in Washington state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed last week.

This discovery not only raises concerns over GMO contamination, it could be another legal headache for Monsanto, as the agritech giant has paid millions to settle recent lawsuits over illegal GMO wheat.

GMO wheat is not allowed to be grown anywhere in the world. Monsanto has had to pay millions to settle lawsuits over GMO wheat scares in Oregon. Flickr

Reuters reported on Friday that a farmer found 22 unapproved GMO wheat plants in a field that has not been planted since 2015. Federal and state officials are now conducting an investigation.

According to the Associated Press, "Federal officials said they were working with the farmer to ensure that none of the modified wheat is sold. Out of caution, the agency said it is holding and testing the farmer's full wheat harvest, but so far it has not found GMOs."

The GMO wheat, or MON 71700, is resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's flagship weedkiller Roundup. The USDA found no evidence of the wheat in commerce and the Food and Drug Administration concluded that the wheat poses no threat if it turned up in our food supply.

Monsanto said in a statement to the AP that the wheat plants were used in field trials in the Pacific Northwest from 1998 to 2001 but never commercialized. It is currently unclear how the plants got to the field in Washington State.

Safe or not, GMO wheat is not allowed for commercial use or production in the U.S. or anywhere in the world for that matter. And yet this is the third such discovery of Monsanto's rogue GMO wheat in the U.S. in the last three consecutive years.

As the AP pointed out, unapproved GMO wheat was found at a university research center in Huntley, Montana in 2014 where it was legally tested by Monsanto in the early 2000s. In 2013, another unapproved strain of Monsanto's GMO wheat was found on an eastern Oregon farm even though there had been no tests in the area. To this day it is unclear how the wheat got there.

As EcoWatch noted back in 2013, because pollen naturally blows or migrates to neighboring fields, contamination of farmers' fields is both predictable and unavoidable. Additionally, many farmers incur considerable costs in testing their crops and seed supply for transgenic contamination or actually forgo planting of certain crops in order to maintain seed purity.

GMO wheat contamination is somewhat of a sore subject for Monsanto. In 2014, the agritech giant paid $2.4 million to settle a lawsuit filed by U.S. wheat farmers over the GMO wheat scare in Oregon. Last year, the company paid another $350,000 to farmers in seven states over the same issue.

Monsanto told the AP that the type of GMO wheat found in Washington state is similar to the one discovered in Oregon in 2013.

The latest discovery of GMO wheat could also impact global trade, as many countries have strict regulations over GMOs and GMO imports.

Three years ago, several Asian countries temporarily banned U.S. wheat imports after GMO wheat was found in the aforementioned Oregon field.

In fact, shortly after word got out about the latest crop of unapproved GMO wheat, South Korea announced it will increase quarantine measures for U.S. milling and feed wheat.

"We plan to strictly inspect imports of U.S. wheat and flour and clear customs only for the wheat products that are confirmed not to have any genetically modified wheat," an official at the food ministry said Friday.

South Korea, the fifth largest market for U.S. wheat, noted that it was unlikely the GMO wheat would appear in imports since it has not been put into commercial production in the U.S.

According to Reuters, "The discovery comes as the latest blow for the U.S. wheat market as prices hover near multi-year lows amid record-large stocks and stiff competition in global markets from low cost suppliers."

Actress Jessica Smith gets her make-up done at the Point De Vue Salon on March 1, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. Marsaili McGrath / Getty Images

California became the first state in the nation to ban two dozen toxic chemicals from cosmetics Wednesday when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill to that effect into law.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The MoveOn political action committee memorializes coronavirus deaths in the U.S. on May 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images for MoveOn

As the coronavirus has spread around the globe, so have the germs of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the new disease. Fake news about the virus is so prevalent that health professionals have started referring to it as an "infodemic."

Read More Show Less

Trending

A Marathon Oil refinery in Melvindale, Michigan on June 9, 2020. The Federal Reserve bought $3 million in the company's bonds before they were downgraded, bringing taxpayers' total stake to $7 million. FracTracker Alliance

A new report shows the U.S. government bought more than $350 million in bonds issued by oil and gas companies and induced investors to loan the industry tens of billions more at artificially low rates since the coronavirus pandemic began, Bloomberg reported.

Read More Show Less
A September 17 report by the Rhodium Group calculates that 1.8 billion tons more greenhouse gases will be released over the next 15 years as a result of climate change rollbacks the Trump administration has achieved so far. Pete Linforth / Pixabay / CC0

By Karen Charman

When President Donald Trump visited California on September 14 and dismissed the state Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot's plea to recognize the role of climate change in the midst of the Golden State's worst and most dangerous recorded fire season to date, he gaslighted the tens of millions of West Coast residents suffering through the ordeal.

Read More Show Less
President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives on February 04, 2020 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

By Jan Ellen Spiegel

It wasn't so long ago that the issue of climate change was poised to play a huge – possibly even a decisive – role in the 2020 election, especially in the race for control of the U.S. Senate. Many people supporting Democratic candidates saw a possible Democratic majority as a hedge against a potential Trump re-election … a way to plug the firehose spray of more than 100 environmental regulation rollbacks and new anti-climate initiatives by the administration over its first term.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch