Monsanto’s Oregon GMO wheat scandal puzzles investigators

After authorities found GMO wheat growing on the field of an Oregon farmer, they were hoping to quickly trace the origin of the crop. Three months later, though, investigators are even more puzzled than before.

A farmer in Oregon discovered in May that a GMO wheat crop manufactured by biotech company
Monsanto and discontinued years earlier had mysteriously sprouted
in his field. But after an array of testing was waged from the
United State Department of Agriculture and others, it’s still
uncertain months later where the crop came from.

A Monsanto-made GMO wheat strain was tested on the field between
1998 and 2005 before the St. Louis, Missouri-based agro-giant
withdrew its application from the USDA’s regulatory approval
process. By that point, though, it had spent seven years planting
a particular strain of wheat that could withstand exposure to
Monsanto’s own “Roundup” pesticide. When an Oregon farmer
realized two months ago that some plants in his wheat field were
surviving despite dousing them with Roundup, he became
suspicious. Soon after the USDA did too, even launching a federal

The zombie crop raised concern around the world when foreign
buyers of US goods objected over possibly buying a harvest infected
with hybrid seeds unapproved of overseas. Monsanto Chief
Technology Officer Robb Fraley went on to call the entire
incident “suspicious” and generated calls of potential sabotage,
but even still the mystery remains unsolved.

The result, NPR reported this week, could mean hundreds of
millions of dollars if Asian buyers exit from contracts with
American farmers.

Weighing in weeks after he touted the possibility of the incident
being the result of sabotage, Fraley still seemed unsure. “The
fact pattern indicates the strong possibility that someone
intentionally introduced wheat seed containing the CP4 event into
his field, sometime after that farmer initially planted it
Fraley told NPR, referring to Monsanto’s patented Roundup
resistance gene

Fraley also said that anti-GMO activists upset with his company
could have orchestrated it to discredit the company. Monsanto was
in fact the focus of a day of international protests earlier this
year held by GMO activists on six continents, and like-minded
advocates continue to petition against Washington’s ties to the
biotech industry.

There are folks who don’t like biotechnology and who would
use this as an opportunity to create problems
,” Fraley
previously told reporters.

But as the investigation remains unresolved, the entire incident
may unfold to be nothing more than an honest mistake. Oregon
State wheat breeder Bob Zemetra told NPR that Fraley’s claim
seemed a bit of “a stretch” and suggested it was something
much simpler.

Or you have a bag that gets mislabeled and gets put on the
shelf and just sits there
,” he said.

Others, like Oregon State University weed scientist Carol
Mallory-Smith, say it really could be anything.

There are so many places in the system where errors can be
,” she told Nature. “Once we release these genes into
the field, we should just assume that they are going to stay in
the environment

We may never know who actually released it,” added
Washington State University Director of Agricultural Research
James Moyer.

Republished with permission from: RT