The Washington grain industry is on high alert with the recent emergence of a genetically modified strain of wheat found in an Oregon crop last month. On May 29 the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (or APHIS) confirmed the contamination of a singular field with Monsanto Co.’s genetically engineered wheat. Representatives from Monsanto said they believe it to be an isolated occurrence, but it remains unclear whether the cause was accidental or deliberate.
Genetically modified wheat is not approved for farming in the U.S., causing many Washington wheat farmers and the Washington Grain Commission to wonder how this event could have occurred.
Japan, one of Washington’s biggest markets in the grain industry, has postponed Oregon shipments of the soft white strain of wheat but is still accepting the hard red spring and hard red winter classes. Korea has turned away only the soft white and Taiwan has not taken any actions against U.S. wheat. Due to its perceived isolation, domestic markets have not reacted to the contamination. Wheat prices have not been affected by the incident either.