Illegal GMO wheat appears to have “escaped” into nature

According to a new article in the Washington Post, Japan has suspended all imports of U.S. wheat after genetically modified Monsanto wheat mysteriously appeared in an Oregon field.

The fear now is that this illegal wheat has “escaped” from open field trials 12 years ago and has naturalized, which would have huge food implications. Although it is early days, this certainly appears to be the most likely explanation right now. Yikes.

Monsanto says the mysterious appearance of its GMO wheat is not a big deal because it is safe. People like me say it is not safe, for many reasons. The two biggest are: First, at the very least, Roundup-Ready vegetables and grains mean farmers are drenching wheat in chemicals -- and the land where the wheat grows. And second, the GMO genetics can spread through pollination, contaminating and irreversibly changing natural wheat varieties. It is hard to overemphasize that once this contamination takes place, it cannot ever -- EVER -- be undone. This is why GMO food is illegal in most of the world -- except the U.S., where corporate patents are more important than global health.

Here is the problem. The wheat was last approved for test-growing 12 years ago. This wheat was genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup, so that farmers can spray this poison on the wheat and kill all the weeds around it, but not the wheat.

Ironically, the illegal wheat was discovered when the farmer spayed his field with Roundup, but this wheat refused to die.

Japan was the first to cancel orders for U.S. wheat, but won’t likely be the last. Europe imports 1 million tons of wheat a year, according to the Washington Post, and since the discovery they have said they are watching the situation closely because they have “zero tolerance” for GMO food.

Here is another eye-opener:

“The United States already relies heavily on genetically modified crops,” reports the Post. “Genetically engineered corn, cotton and soybeans have gone from 5 to 17 percent of the U.S. market in 1997 to between two-thirds and more than 90 percent in 2012. By some estimates, more than 70 percent of processed foods sold in the United States contain ingredients and oils from genetically engineered crops.”

Food safety groups are demanding an investigation, pointing out that the illegal wheat isn’t supposed to exist in fields and didn’t just “magically” appear.

“This was not from a recent trial, which means it’s been sitting there in the environment,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit group, as quoted in the Post.  “It’s highly doubtful that it’s just on one farm. If it’s out there, it’s out there.” The center’s science policy analyst, Bill Freese, added, “It’s been 12 years since this wheat was grown officially in Oregon. It doesn’t just disappear and magically appear 12 years later.”

1 comment:

  1. This makes me wonder if the wheat I bought in the past year is now GMO wheat. I sure hope not, but I'm pretty sure it was grown in Oregon.