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USDA Says GM Wheat In Oregon Appears To Be 'Isolated Incident'

Anna King
Northwest News Network

The US Department of Agriculture says stalks of genetically modified wheat found in a field in Oregon look to be an isolated incident. In an announcement Friday the agency says its own tests confirm the suspect wheat carries modified genes designed by agribusiness giant Monsanto.

Northwest farmers appear relieved that the government is calling the discovery of genetically modified wheat “a single isolated incident in a single field on a single farm.”

Since early last month, the USDA has been investigating how genetically modified wheat escaped a tightly-controlled test period and sprouted in a fallow eastern Oregon field. This type of wheat’s genes have been modified to make the plant resistant to herbicides.

Scott Yates is with the Washington Wheat Commission. He says wheat prices have dipped since the news got out. But he says the most important thing now is to reopen Asian export markets before the Northwest wheat harvest starts in early July.

“I think everyone is still waiting for that and when that happens there will be a sigh of relief,” says Yates.

The federal government says the public shouldn’t be concerned about eating wheat products. That’s because the modified strain passed a health and safety test years ago.

On the Web:

USDA statement on GM wheat - US Department of Agriculture
Monsanto and GM wheat - Monsanto

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.