CONTACT: Hans Eisenbeis
PHONE: 360-255-7704 x107
Bellingham, WA, June 19, 2019—The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced last week that an unapproved variety of genetically engineered glyphosate-resistant wheat was found in an unplanted farm in Washington state. This experimental variety was reportedly grown in field trials more than a decade ago. There are no genetically engineered wheat varieties currently approved for sale in the United States or any other country, and yet biotechnology companies continue to allow their GMOs to contaminate fallow fields.
This is not the first time wheat has been contaminated by an unapproved GMO. Glyphosate-tolerant wheat was discovered in Oregon in 2013, Montana in 2014, Washington in 2016, and Alberta, Canada in 2018. The USDA strengthened its oversight of wheat field trials after the 2016 contamination; producers are now required to obtain permits for such trials.
This occurrence threatens the U.S. wheat market. International regulations on import and sale of unapproved GMO varieties are strict; previous contamination events have led to rejection by foreign markets The Washington Association of Wheat Growers reports that Washington state exports 80 to 90 percent of its wheat crop, which means farmers may face low prices if foreign markets reject American or Washington-grown wheat.
“This contamination demonstrates yet again that once GMOs are released into the environment, these novel organisms cannot be recalled,” says Non-GMO Project Executive Director Megan Westgate. “The Non-GMO Project remains committed to protecting our supply chain from unchecked GMO contamination.”
About the Non-GMO Project
The Non-GMO Project is a nonprofit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices.