On July 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the discovery by a farmer of 22 genetically engineered (GE) wheat plants growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington state. After more testing, no additional crop from the farmer was found to contain any of the GE material.
The GE wheat in question is resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly referred to as Roundup. USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said it has no evidence of GE wheat in commerce.
APHIS said it has taken prompt and thorough action in response to this discovery. Working with the farmer, APHIS took measures to ensure that no GE wheat moved into commerce. Out of an abundance of caution, APHIS tested the farmer’s full wheat harvest for the presence of any GE material. USDA has completed tests of the grain, and all samples were found to be negative for any GE material. Therefore, the farmer’s crop will be allowed to enter commerce.
The GE wheat was developed by Monsanto Co. and is referred to as MON 71700, containing the CP4-EPSPS protein. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration previously evaluated crops containing the CP4-EPSPS protein for safety through its voluntary biotechnology consultation process. Due to the small number of affected plants, and based on the available information about MON 71700 and CP4-EPSPS, FDA concluded that it is unlikely that the wheat would present any safety concerns if present in the food supply as a result of this incident.
USDA is collaborating with state, industry and trading partners and said it is committed to providing all partners with timely and transparent information about the findings.
There is no GE wheat for sale or in commercial production in the U.S. at this time as APHIS has not deregulated any GE wheat varieties.