Genetically engineered (GE) wheat plants have been found growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington state. Resistant to glyphosate herbicide, the discovery has been confirmed by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
No commercial GE wheat varieties are for sale in the U.S. nor are they in commercial production according to APHIS. There is no evidence that GE wheat has entered the food supply.
Previous detections of GE wheat compelled USDA to strengthen its oversight of regulated GE wheat field trials.
APHIS now requires developers to apply for a permit for field trials involving GE wheat beginning on or after January 1, 2016. Permit requirements enables APHIS to create and enforce conditions that ensure confinement and minimize the risk that the regulated GE wheat will persist in the environment.
According to APHIS, the Washington state detection is a result of events occurring before USDA strengthened its oversight of regulated GE wheat trials.
Samples of the GE wheat plants were sent to the USDA Federal Grain Inspection Service lab in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as USDA Agricultural Research lab in Pullman, Washington, for testing and confirmation.
U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) released a joint statement that they are aware of the discovery of the GE wheat.