Over the weekend, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed the discovery of genetically engineered wheat plants growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington State. The GE wheat in question is resistant to glyphosate, commonly referenced under one of its brand names, Roundup.
In a news release APHIS said, “There is no evidence that GE wheat has entered the food supply. USDA is collaborating with our state, industry and trading partners, and we are committed to providing all our partners with timely and transparent information about our findings.”
There are no GE wheat varieties for sale or in commercial production in the United States at this time, as APHIS has not deregulated any GE wheat varieties.
After previous detections of GE wheat, the USDA 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 such wheat planted on or after January 1, 2016. Bringing GE wheat under permit enables APHIS to create and enforce permit conditions that ensure confinement and minimize the risk that the regulated GE wheat will persist in the environment.
In a joint press release, U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers announced they are aware that APHIS has confirmed the discovery of the genetically engineered wheat plants.
They believe APHIS is well prepared to identify additional information about this discovery and has confirmed that there is no health risk associated with glyphosate resistance events in wheat based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration evaluations.
“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. We understand 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 USDA Agricultural Research lab in Pullman, WA, for testing and confirmation,” the wheat groups said. “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.”