The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

June 16, 2013

USDA: Modified wheat appears to be isolated

WASHINGTON — The Agriculture Department says it has no indications that genetically modified wheat found in Oregon last month has spread beyond the field in which it was found.

No genetically engineered wheat has been approved for U.S. farming, and the department is investigating how the engineered wheat got in the field.

USDA spokesman Matt Paul said in a statement Friday that the department “has neither found nor been informed of anything that would indicate that this incident amounts to more than a single isolated incident in a single field on a single farm.”

Agriculture Department officials have said the wheat is the same strain as a genetically modified wheat that was designed to be herbicide-resistant and was legally tested by seed giant Monsanto a decade ago but never approved.

Japan, Korea and Taiwan have suspended imports of western white wheat from the Pacific Northwest as the USDA investigates.

Paul said that investigators have interviewed the farmer who harvested the wheat from his field, interviewed the supplier who sold the producer wheat seed, obtained samples of the seed and obtained samples of other wheat grown by the farmer. All of the samples have tested negative so far, Paul said, and there is no indication that the engineered wheat entered commerce.

USDA said the investigation is continuing and inspectors are conducting interviews with approximately 200 area growers. The department also has given trading partners a copy of the test developed by Monsanto so they can identify the engineered strain.

The modified wheat was discovered when field workers at an Eastern Oregon farm were clearing acres for the bare offseason when they came across a patch of wheat that didn’t belong. The workers sprayed it but the wheat wouldn’t die, so the farmer sent a sample to Oregon State University to test.

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