Monsanto Scandal Causes Reopening of US Investigation of GMO Wheat

Biotech giant has little regard for regulatory approval

CHRISTINA SARICH

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agencies investigated the appearance of what appeared to be GE wheat on an Oregon farm, and concluded that it was an isolated incident. The investigation was closed after ‘exhausting all leads,’ but new GMO wheat has been detected at the Montana State University’s Southern Agricultural Research Center (SARC) in Huntley, Montana, where Monsanto and researchers grew GE wheat as part of field trials from 2000 to 2003.

The Oregon wheat was later suspected by environmentalists to be a development by Monsanto, meant to withstand the spraying of RoundUp. The APHIS found no evidence at that time that the GE wheat had been released into the market. Just this week, the agency is releasing its full findings on their investigation with personal information and confidential business information redacted.

This time; however, a new investigation will be opened to investigate regulatory compliance issues with the GE wheat found growing at the research facility in Montana. While this site was previously authorized for Monsanto to conduct field trials, the company is not supposed to be growing GM wheat or any other GM crop there now.

Furthermore, the GM wheat found growing there now has been genetically tested and is significantly different from the GE wheat found growing in Oregon last year.

Since the original field trials granted to Monsanto, the APHIS has not deregulated any GE wheat varieties. They are not to be for sale or in commercial production in the U.S.

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