U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials said last week that an unapproved variety of wheat was found growing in a Washington state field, though there are no signs that it made its way into commercial grain shipments.

The Monsanto-produced wheat is a RoundUp-resistant variety that was never commercially released. USDA officials said it was discovered in a farmer’s planted field. Department officials are in the process of testing the farmer’s wheat harvest for the GMO variety, but so far none has been found.

This is the 3rd time unapproved GM wheat has been discovered in the United States since mid-2013, the 1st time occurring on a 125-acre farm in Oregon. The discovery led to some Asian countries temporarily suspending U.S. wheat imports.

Then, in 2014, biotech wheat turned up near a Montana State University crop research facility that had hosted biotech wheat trials more than 10 years earlier. Those, too, were developed by Monsanto.

A Monsanto spokesperson said the GM wheat found in Washington was studied in “limited field trials” in the Pacific Northwest from 1998 to 2000, but was never sold to farmers.

Genetically engineered (GE) corn, soybean, cotton varieties are grown on more than 90% of all U.S. acres dedicated to those crops; however, no GM wheat varieties are approved for commercial farming in this country. [1]

The discovery of the 22 wheat plants could impact U.S. wheat trade overseas, where many countries are concerned about the potential safety hazards associated with genetically modified food. Some nations have evenbanned GMOs entirely.

Here’s where things get a little bit confusing.

Remember when I said there are no approved varieties of GM wheat in the U.S.? Well, to quote The Wall Street Journal, “companies have periodically worked on varieties that can withstand pesticides, such as the weedkiller glyphosate.”

Then there’s this: earlier this month, South Korea suspended customs clearance for some GE wheat from the U.S. due to safety concerns. Additionally, the country announced that the distribution and sale of U.S. wheat will be halted. [2]

What are the odds that Americans eat many more GMOs than they realize? How do these unapproved varieties of wheat “accidentally” wind up in farmers’ fields?

When RoundUp-resistant wheat turned up in Oregon, rather than issuing an apology, Monsanto blamed activists for the debacle, claiming they had deliberately dispersed the seeds throughout the non-GMO wheat crop.

Insultingly, Monsanto said:

“It’s fair to say there are folks who don’t like biotechnology and would use this to create problems.”

This assertion was based on the pattern in which the wheat was growing. It was just as likely, however, that some of the GM seeds were mixed in with the non-GMO seeds.

As Monsanto has proven in the past, it’s much easier to blame saboteurs than it is to take responsibility.

This article originally appeared at Natural Society.


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