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U.S. Representative Wants Answers on GE Wheat

Rep. McMorris Rodgers calls on USDA APHIS administrator for answers in GE wheat discovery

Published on: Jun 19, 2013

USDA's May discovery of unauthorized genetically engineered wheat in Oregon stirred up questions from wheat growers, legislators and trading partners alike regarding the safety of the U.S. wheat supply and the presence of GE content in commerce.

In attempt to put questions to rest, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which is handling the investigation, Friday confirmed that the wheat found in an Oregon field was an isolated incident "in a single farm on a single field."

"All information collected so far shows no indication of the presence of GE wheat in commerce," the announcement added.

USDA also noted it had validated a specific DNA-based method for detecting the Monsanto Roundup Ready gene and has provided this validated DNA test method to detect this specific GE variety to trading partners that have requested it.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers calls on USDA APHIS administrator for answers in GE wheat discovery
Rep. McMorris Rodgers calls on USDA APHIS administrator for answers in GE wheat discovery

However, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Monday requested both a timeline of the investigation and a meeting to discuss the potential impacts of the discovery on wheat markets.

In a letter sent to APHIS Acting Administrator Kevin Shea, McMorris-Rodgers explained that "wheat growers play a significant role in Eastern Washington's economy and I am concerned that Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, key trading partners, have delayed purchases of white wheat."

McMorris-Rodgers also highlighted declining white wheat prices.

"Wheat growers in Eastern Washington are already experiencing a decline in wheat prices. Knowing that the start of harvest is imminent, I am concerned that if harvest begins and APHIS is still unable to determine how this occurrence happened, wheat prices will continue to remain depressed," she said.

Additionally, the Representative asked for clarification on the investigation.

"It is my understanding that APHIS has failed to accept assistance from key stakeholder organizations, like the Washington Crop Improvement Association, and universities," she wrote. "In addition to possessing first-hand knowledge of the wheat community in Eastern Oregon and Washington, these organizations are industry leaders, known for their exceptional and ground-breaking agriculture research."

McMorris-Rodgers further asked why APHIS opted for developing a test for the GE event rather than determining the classification of wheat, which she said is believed to be an easier method.

Read more on GE Wheat:
USDA GE Wheat Investigation Continues
Monsanto Not Ruling Out 'Purposeful' Release of GE Wheat
GE Wheat Investigation Will Take Time, USDA Says
USDA Identifies GE Glyphosate-Resistant Volunteer Wheat