GMO wheat discovery stokes trade fears

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/souvikdg/ Some rights reserved.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/souvikdg/ Some rights reserved.

News that unapproved genetically modified wheat was found on a farm in Oregon has spread fast, and it's already having global trade consequences.

There is no GMO wheat approved for commercial use in the United States. No one's really sure how this GMO wheat got to that field. USDA officials traced the wheat to an experimental strain owned by Monsanto, but abandoned eight years ago.

According to the Associated Press, the discovery could raise questions from overseas importers of American wheat that don't allow GMOs:

Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba said in a statement that the discovery is "a very serious development that could have major trade ramifications." The state exports about 90 percent of its wheat.

"I am concerned that a highly regulated plant material such as genetically modified wheat somehow was able to escape into a crop field," she said.

MarketWatch reports this morning that Japan has already cancelled a U.S. wheat order on GMO fears.

A more widespread GMO contamination of the rice crop in 2006 led to import bans in Europe and Japan.

As The Dirt's Julie Grant has written here and here, the whole GMO debate is extremely complicated and messy. And definitely read this GMO myth-busted essay from NPR's Dan Charles.

But yesterday's announcement of the mystery GMO wheat definitely stoked the issue anew.

 

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