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Alfalfa In Washington Field Tests Positive For GMO

Anna King / NW News Network
Northwest News Network

Tests of alfalfa seed from a field in eastern Washington have come back positive for genetically engineered genes called Round-Up-Ready.

That’s the announcement Friday from Washington’s Department of Agriculture. The case calls into question the protocol for keeping GMO and conventionally raised seed separate. It could affect foreign exports.

It’s legal to grow genetically modified alfalfa in the United States – and some Eastern Washington farmers do. But many customers in the premium Japanese export market, don’t want to buy it.

So that’s the problem with the finding that there was GMO hay where it shouldn’t have been. Washington growers have a strict industry protocol and testing program to keep genetically engineered and conventionally bred crops separate.

Hector Castro is a spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture. He says, the farmer knows how this GMO seed got on his field.

“It’s more a matter of he thought he planted one thing, and he planted something else," Castro says. "Wanting to get an answer to that question is why we were asked to test the seed. But it’s not like there has been any corruption in the product stream or anything like that.”

The news comes as Washington gets ready to debate an initiative to require labeling of genetically modified foods.

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.