It's no big deal because the answer is that it is as at least as safe to people and the environment as conventional or organic wheat. So why the question? Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced…
…test results of plant samples from an Oregon farm indicate the presence of genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-resistant wheat plants. Further testing by USDA laboratories indicates the presence of the same GE glyphosate-resistant wheat variety that Monsanto was authorized to field test in 16 states from 1998 to 2005.
Naturally, the discovery is being denounced by anti-biotech activist groups. For example, Food Democracy Now! executive director Dave Murphy in an emailed press release declared:
The USDA's announcement of unapproved GMO wheat in U.S. fields is a major threat to the $8 billion wheat export market and undermines the faith of America's crops globally and the economic livelihoods of U.S. wheat farmers.
The continued genetic contamination of organic and non-GMO farmers fields is another sign of how Monsanto's flawed technology continues to negatively impact family farmers and our food supply. Monsanto's GMO wheat has never been approved for use in the United States and has not be approved for planting in the U.S. since 2004. As long as genetically engineered crops remain unregulated and unlabeled the American people and citizens around the world will continue to protest Monsanto and their rogue business practices.
Murphy and his fellow-travelers in the environmentalist movement will be chiefly to blame if some countries ban American wheat imports. After all, it is the activists who have ginned up a massive unscientific disinformation campaign against the safety and utility of modern biotech crops. Thanks to tireless activism, several countries banned the import of American rice over a similar fake furor back in 2006. In that case, tests found that a herbicide resistant rice variety had been commingled at at rate of 6 grains of biotech rice to 10,000 grains of conventional rice.
With regard to the current imbroglio the USDA's statement added:
The detection of this wheat variety does not pose a food safety concern. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed a voluntary consultation on the safety of food and feed derived from this GE glyphosate-resistant wheat variety in 2004. For the consultation, the developer provided information to FDA to support the safety of this wheat variety. FDA completed the voluntary consultation with no further questions concerning the safety of grain and forage derived from this wheat, meaning that this variety is as safe as non-GE wheat currently on the market (emphasis added).
The notion that conventional wheat or organic wheat could be somehow dangerously contaminated by any amount - much less the tiny amount possibly at issue here - of this variety of herbicide resistant wheat is scientific nonsense. This herbicide resistance trait has been incorporated in hundreds of varieties of biotech crops for nearly twenty years with no adverse effects on anybody. Nobody knows yet how the herbicide resistant wheat got into the farmer's fields in Oregon but, I, for one, am very curious about who the farmer will turn out to be.
For more background, see my "The Top 5 Lies About Biotech Crops." See also, ReasonTV's excellent video of the silly "March Against Monsanto" protest in Los Angeles over this past weekend below: