Japan and parts of South Korea have banned U.S. wheat imports after the discovery of a genetically modified crop in Oregon. Testing has confirmed the GMO wheat comes from the agri-giant Monsanto. The herbicide-resistant strain was field-tested several years ago before protests helped force Monsanto to withdraw it from consideration. The European Union is urging members to test what would amount to 80 percent of its imported U.S. wheat. In Washington, officials with the Department of Agriculture insisted the wheat is safe.
Michael Firko: "We have reviewed this particular transgenic trait in a variety of different crops — cotton, corn, soybean, canola and wheat. And although there are no wheat varieties that are approved for unrestricted planting, we have no safety concerns related to planting of this transgenic wheat at this time."
Bernadette Juarez: "We understand how important this issue is to the American public and to our agriculture industry, and we have a team of dedicated investigators working on the ground daily to collect all the information and evidence that’s available for us to figure out what’s going on here."
In a statement, the Center for Food Safety called on regulators to suspend all field trials of genetically modified crops, saying: "Our farmers and food supply are severely jeopardized by such contamination episodes, yet the biotech industry responsible faces no accountability."