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Media No Closer Than USDA to Solving GMO Wheat Mystery

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
  • Chris Crawford

    I wish the Gov. or whomever is responsible for altering wheat. 10 years ago I could eat anything. I’m only 34, with celiac disorder, high blood pressure, and chronic migraines. You would not have heard this 20-30 years ago.

    • Mike

      Are you trying to make a link to GMO and your condition based on “you would not have heard of this 20-30 years ago”? I would have thought you could have come up with many, many other factors other than GMOs that contribute to increased morbidity in people in the US.

      • Chris Crawford

        I thought I was just stating the obvious, God put the food here for us to eat, then Man comes along and tries to make it better. This shouldn’t be happening.

        • Mark S.

          If you are going to invoke the ‘God’ clause do you really think God wants us to sit back and continue to use outdated, less efficient, less productive methods of growing food and grain just because ‘man is trying to make it better’? Should we just let people starve? With global population growth projected to increase by 2 billion in the next 40 years I’m not sure how you think farmers and the agriculture industry can produce enough food for all of us without finding more efficient ways to do it. If farmers and agriculture industries are not allowed to use ‘science’ then we need to start making a list of people who are going to be willing to get in the ‘I’ll give up my food and die out’ line at the global grocery store. Man has used science to create smart phones, computers, cars, microwaves and a lot of other toys and ‘necessities’ that we have today that make us happy and make our lives easier but for some reason farmers and agriculture are not allowed to do that. Either stop being so naive – and learn about how genetic engineering works – or turn off your computer, smart phone and lights because God didn’t “invent” the light bulb either.

          • farmber

            No One is really feeding the world, actually — despite what the Biotech and Agribiz corporations like to claim.

            And just because industrialized producers ramp up more high-input methods to “efficiently”produce more food stuff doesn’t mean that it will be healthy or affordable or distributed to those who need it…

            A much better plan is to help people feed themselves — with low-input, agro-ecological methods that don’t poison the environment and the health of people and the planet.

            GMOs is a profit-based oligopolistic economic strategy based on proprietary technology — real science would help provide for all God’s peoples…

          • RobertWager

            You do realize there are 15 million resource poor farmers in the developing world growing GM crops?

          • freedomforhealth

            I agree, but have you noticed their choice of words in designating the problem as being stopping world hunger? Hunger is not the problem, it’s a symptom which could be alleviated by eating rocks or amphetamines. They are hungry because they are starving and need nutritious bona fide real food, you know, normal, organic true foods indigenous to our planet.

          • Mike

            This is the part that bothers me the most on sites and comments such as this. The science for GMOs is “real science”. Non-scientist like to think of synthetic biology as “artificial” and have nefarious people in lab coats twirling their giant mustache and rubbing their hands together with a big pile of cash. I wish, as a scientist, that science as a whole could better communicate to people, but there are people whose mindset is like Chris’ that “God made food” and any attempt to alter it is an abomination.

          • freedomforhealth

            The “God clause” tells us that the last time there was genetic combining of different kinds, it resulted in the Nephilim being born, who ended cannibalizing the humans and is what brought on the flood. Noah was chosen because he managed to remain perfect in his “gene”rations. From that time onward, we have been taught to keep each kind with each kind and as an example, even to go so far as not mixing or wearing two different fibers together in our clothing.

  • Oginikwe

    I wonder what it’s like to live in a country that puts the needs and health of their citizens before corporate profits . . .

    • RobertWager

      Moreover, the AAAS Board said, the World Health Organization, the
      American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the
      British Royal Society, and “every other respected organization that has
      examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: consuming foods
      containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than
      consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants
      modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.”

  • farmber

    Take a deep breath Bart. That isn’t what I said. I’m talking about the working sustainable bottom-up model with short supply chains called farms — and profitable ones at that.

    And better watch your back — those oligopolistic industrialized operations, biotech and CAFOs are focused on their bottom line — not on producing healthy, environmentally safe food…

    • RobertWager

      The organic food industry is a $50 billion a year enterprise. Why don’t those numbers raise the same ‘in it for the money’ concerns ?

  • RobertWager

    What about the safety issue. there have been 17 recalls for pathogenic microorganism contamination of organic food in the past two years. Surely this is an issue?

  • Spookduke

    IMO, GMO’s should be listed on everything that is in what we eat. I don’t want to consume anything that is not naturally found in nature. I am very angry and never knew that we were consuming all the GMO’s that we do. I am a christian and I do believe, Satan wants to turn us into beasts. We have been warned about defiling the temple of God. You are the temple because God sits in our hearts and once it is defiled we will be destroyed. GMO’s over a period of time may lead to changing what god has created. When we change and destroy ourselves or our food its not like we can change it back and fix it. We will soon destroy ourselves, tampering with things we should not have ever messed with. I feel this is exactly what is wrong with the bee’s and their fly away syndrome. People are scared to say it but I’m not, This must stop.