The media love a mystery.
Ever since those “Roundup Ready” wheat plantings were found growing in an isolated 125-acre field in eastern Oregon, the mystery has stymied media attempts to solve it.
How did the seeds with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) end up growing this past April in that field when they were part of a Monsanto test program never conducted in that area and which was abandoned a decade earlier?
Farm and food reporters have been on the case ever since. Kansas City-based Harvest Public Media checked out the security at USDA’s “seed vault” in Fort Collins, CO. Monsanto stored the GMO wheat seeds for awhile but then had them destroyed.
Latest to chase the mystery is The Oregonian newspaper in Portland. It filed public records requests with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and ended up with hundreds of pages of documents disclosing much anxiety in Salem about the incident but no evidence that investigators have so much as a good clue about how the GMO wheat ended up in that Gilliam County field.
The anxiety after the GMO wheat was discovered was understandable. Most Oregon wheat is exported to Asia, where it’s turned into noodles and other products. GMO wheat is not traded in world markets, and Asia’s wheat buyers went into a defensive mode when USDA announced what had been found.
Documents examined by The Oregonian captured the mild panic the GMO wheat created for state officials, who scrambled to stay in touch with their Asian trading partners, local politicians and the like.
After USDA concluded it was an isolated event, Asian markets settled down and grain shipments continued to Japan and Korea. The Oregonian reports that 270 Pacific Northwest wheat growers were interviewed as part of the investigation.
The mystery, however, continues. The GMO wheat able to resist glyphosate just popped up. Blake Rowe, Oregon Wheat Commission chief executive, is quoted as urging growers to be “extra vigilant” after harvest this year.© Food Safety News