- Washington State University announced June 7 that since May 29, its scientists have screened public and private varieties representing 90 percent Washington’s soft white (SW) winter wheat crop and nearly 75 percent of the state’s SW spring wheat varieties and has not found any evidence of a glyphosate-resistant trait in that wheat.
- Monsanto has also announced that it has tested 56 seed varieties representing more than 80 percent of all the acres of SW winter and spring wheat varieties grown in Oregon and Washington in 2011; no sample has tested positive for the Roundup Ready trait identified by APHIS.
There is no food or feed safety concern associated with this trait.
APHIS made it clear that this wheat does not pose a food safety concern. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed a consultation on the safety of food and feed derived from wheat with this GM glyphosate-resistant trait. 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 wheat with the trait, meaning it is as safe as non-GM wheat currently on the market.
FDA’s consultation summary is posted here.
FDA’s letter to the developer is posted here.
U.S. wheat producers make safety a priority and state publicly that any genetically modified trait must meet all regulatory approvals for food and feed use in major wheat export markets where a functioning regulatory system exists.
Some importing customers have suspended purchase of some U.S. wheat classes; these decisions are limited and being managed thoughtfully.
Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has temporarily suspended new purchases of “Western White” wheat from the United States because of the Roundup Ready trait identified by APHIS (Western White is a blend of at least 10 percent club wheat with soft white wheat). MAFF did not, as has been reported, cancel a contract for U.S. wheat, nor has it suspended or restricted all U.S. wheat imports as some reports claim. MAFF continues to purchase U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat and hard red winter (HRW) wheat in its regular tenders since the discovery was announced and MAFF also recently purchased U.S. soft red winter (SRW) in a “simultaneous buy-sell” tender for feed wheat.
Private wheat buyers in Korea have temporarily suspended purchases of U.S. SW wheat, pending official decisions from Korea’s Ministry of Food & Drug Safety (MFDS). MFDS did announce June 6 that it had collected and tested 40 samples of wheat and five samples of flour milled from wheat that had been shipped/imported from Oregon, and that all tests showed that “no unapproved recombinant wheat” has been identified to date. Korea’s private buyers collectively have 175,000 metric tons (MT) (6.43 million bushels) of open U.S. wheat purchases on the books that are unaffected by their voluntary delay of new purchases.
Last week, farmers in the Pacific Northwest were glad to learn that the Taiwan Flour Millers Association purchased U.S. western white wheat based on assurance by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration that there is no transgenic wheat in production or for commercial sale in the United States at this time. The APHIS statement of June 14 incorrectly states that Taiwan “has postponed U.S. wheat imports.”
The European Commission has recommended to its member states that they should test U.S. SW wheat imports. We cannot confirm if any EU member state has or has not tested any wheat, nor can we confirm if any country there has postponed any purchases of U.S. wheat because their purchases are not made on a set schedule.
It is important to make an additional clarification about the classes and amount of U.S. wheat exported to EU countries from the Pacific Northwest region. There was a misstatement in some press reports related that the EU imports more than 1.0 million tons of wheat annually and 80 percent of that is “soft white.” European trade sometime refers to all wheat except durum as “soft” wheat. In fact, less than one half of 1 percent of all wheat exported to Europe from the United States since 2008/09 was SW wheat.
In general, USDA's weekly U.S. wheat export sales report issued June 13 showed U.S. new crop sales were a very respectable 427,200 MT (15.7 million bushels), within trade estimates.
The U.S. wheat industry supports biotechnology research and the prescribed path forward to properly approved commercialization.