Washington Wheat Growers React To GMO Discovery

May 31, 2013

An official with the group that represents Washington state wheat growers does not seem to be too worried about the discovery of genetically modified wheat in a field in Oregon.

Japan has temporarily suspended white winter wheat purchases from the U.S.
Credit Gary Halvorson / Wikimedia Commons

The discovery of GMO wheat in Oregon has prompted Japan to temporarily suspend white winter wheat purchases from the U.S. Japan and several other countries require GMO products to be labeled as such before they can be imported, and some countries ban GMO products altogether.

In Washington, the wheat business is huge. The annual value of sales is over $1 billion, with about 85 percent of the grain exported to other countries.

Even so, Glen Squires, the head of the Washington grain commission, feels the concern will be sorted out.

“It’s on a pretty small location and we don’t even know how widespread, so this tender was just, I think, the Japanese saying 'we need to be cautious about this,'" Squires says. "It doesn’t mean they won’t come back and buy soft white in the future.”

Squires says federal officials plans to begin checking to see if there are other signs of the GMO wheat.

There is no commercial GMO wheat grown in the U.S. Monsanto, which developed the GMO wheat in a test, says the discovery in Oregon is the first report of such wheat since it discontinued its test planting program nine years ago.

The test variety was developed to be immune to the herbicide Roundup. The Oregon farmer discovered the wheat after he had sprayed his field with the herbicide.

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