Though it has not been grown in nearly a decade, wheat containing the Roundup Ready gene has been reportedly found in an Oregon, U.S., field by the USDA. The Roundup Ready wheat was field tested many years ago by Monsanto in the state from 1999 to 2005, but the crop was never approved for commercial use or grown commercially at any time. Monsanto is working to confirm the finding, which is said to have been found on one, 80-acre field in the state.
Roundup Ready wheat is safe for food and feed, just as corn, soy and canola containing the gene are, however the trait is not approved in wheat, which could pose a problem should the wheat be found in commercial shipments, however, none of this Oregon-based wheat made its way to commercial channels.
Here is Monsanto Company’s full statement on the discovery:
While Monsanto will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to get to the bottom of the reported genetically modified wheat detection, there are no food, feed or environmental safety concerns associated with the presence of the Roundup Ready gene if it is found to be present in wheat. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed the food and feed safety of Roundup Ready wheat more than a decade ago. The Roundup Ready gene, which is widely used in multiple crops and by millions of farmers globally, has been also reviewed and approved by regulatory authorities in every country around the world to which crops containing that gene have been submitted for cultivation or import approval, including Japan, Korea and the EU.
Over the past decade, an annual average of 58 million acres of wheat have been planted in the United States. This is the first report of the Roundup Ready trait being found out of place since Monsanto’s commercial wheat development program was discontinued nine years ago. Our process for closing out the Roundup Ready wheat program was rigorous, well-documented and audited. We understand that USDA’s findings are based solely on testing samples from a single 80-acre field, on one farm in Oregon, which overwintered from the previous growing season. As is the normal practice in this part of the country, wheat fields are left fallow following the previous harvest and sprayed with glyphosate to control weeds and to preserve soil moisture. The company noted that this report is unusual since the program was discontinued nine years ago, and this is the only report after more than 500 million acres of wheat have been grown. Accordingly, while USDA’s results are unexpected, there is considerable reason to believe that the presence of the Roundup Ready trait in wheat, if determined to be valid, is very limited.
We will work with USDA to confirm their test results and as they consider appropriate next steps. We will also conduct a rigorous investigation to validate the scope of and to address any presence of a Monsanto Roundup Ready event in commercial wheat seed.
Earlier this month, USDA contacted us and requested information pertaining to an investigation into whether hard-to-control wheat from this field may contain a glyphosate-tolerance gene. We have provided materials, methods and offered technical assistance. The necessary testing requires sophisticated methods, considerable expertise and meticulous laboratory techniques to generate reliable results. Commercial test strips, which are used to detect the presence of glyphosate tolerance in soybeans, canola, cotton and sugar beets, generate a very high incidence of false positive detections (greater than 90 percent) and are not reliable for wheat. We have asked for information necessary to confirm the presence of the Roundup Ready trait in the samples that were tested. Up to this point, Monsanto has not received details about the testing USDA has performed, nor has UDSA provided us with samples necessary to verify their findings
Importantly, as all parties work to verify these findings, the glyphosate-tolerance gene used in Roundup Ready wheat has a long history of safe use. The gene that was used in Roundup Ready wheat also produces the same protein that has been and is used widely in corn, soy and several other crops by millions of farmers throughout the world.