USDA has found another sample of wheat plants with genetically engineered material. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reported Friday, June 7, that genetically modified wheat resistant to glyphosate was found in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington state. The agency also reported that there is no evidence this wheat has entered the food supply.
Currently there are no genetically engineered wheat varieties for sale in the United States and APHIS has not deregulated any varieties.
U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers issued a joint statement noting that the agency confirmed the wheat discovery. In the statement the groups said that APHIS is “well prepared to identify additional information about this discovery.”
The group’s statement notes that APHIS confirmed the following:
* There is no evidence suggesting the wheat event, or any other GM wheat event has entered U.S. commercial supplies or entered the food supply;
* There are no GE wheat varieties for sale or in commercial production in the United States at this time;
* And there is not health risk associated with glyphosate resistance events in wheat based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration evaluations.
In the statement the groups added: “We appreciate that USDA is collaborating with our organizations and our state, industry and trading partners to provide timely and transparent information about their findings as they investigate this discovery.”
The two groups note that the samples of the wheat plants from the field in Washington were sent to the USDA Federal Grain Inspection Service lab in Kansas City, Mo., as well as a USDA Agricultural Research Service lab in Pullman, Wash., for testing and confirmation.
The joint statement goes on to say: “We cannot speculate or comment about any potential market reactions until we have a chance to discuss the situation in more detail with overseas customers. Based on what we know today from APHIS, we are confident that nothing has changed the U.S. wheat supply chain’s ability to deliver wheat that matches every customer’s specifications.”
In its press statement, USDA noted that after previous detections of GE wheat, the agency strengthened its oversight of regulated GE wheat field trials. APHIS now requires developers to apply for a permit for field trials involving GE wheat beginning with GE wheat planted on or after Jan. 1, 2016. Bringing GE wheat under permit enables APHIS to create and enforce permit conditions that ensure confinement and minimize risk that the regulated GE wheat will persist in the environment.
This latest detection is the result of events occurring before USDA strengthened its oversight of regulated wheat trials.