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Who Wants Biotech Wheat?

June 28, 2013 | Harvest Public Media
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Grant Gerlock


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  • Nebraska farmer Larry Flohr, squeezes out a kernel of unripened wheat. credit: Grant Gerlock /Harvest Public Media
Nebraska farmer Larry Flohr, squeezes out a kernel of unripened wheat. | credit: Grant Gerlock /Harvest Public Media | rollover image for more

Many farmers say they would like to grow genetically engineered wheat to help them feed a hungry world, but it’s not what everyone’s hungry for. And now, with the mysterious appearance of Roundup Ready wheat in a farmer’s field in Oregon a few weeks ago, consumer resistance may grow even stronger.

Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified, but GMO wheat has never been approved for farming.

“Concerns about GMOs are particularly strong when it is such a staple crop or something that we eat directly,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety. “(Wheat) is the staff of life. It’s the staple crop. It’s what we make bread and pasta out of.”

From 1998 to 2005, biotech seed giant Monsanto grew test plots of wheat containing a gene that made it resistant to its Roundup herbicide. Field trials were conducted in 16 states including Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado. Although it was declared safe by the Food and Drug Administration, the Roundup Ready wheat didn’t go into production.

Since the discovery in the Oregon field, biotech wheat has not been detected in the food supply. Still, Japan and South Korea have stopped ordering soft white wheat, the variety involved in the Oregon incident, until the U.S. Department of Agriculture figures out what happened.

The Center for Food Safety along with farmers in Washington, Idaho, and Kansas are suing Monsanto. Farmers of soft white wheat are concerned about the market reaction. …

For the complete version of this story, go to Harvest Public Media, where this report first appeared.

© 2013 Harvest Public Media
environment agriculture genetically modified
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