The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Monsanto's Unapproved GMO Wheat Found Growing in Washington State
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
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."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.
A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.
The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.
By Wudan Yan
In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."
On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.
By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans
Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.