Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wheat growers say GMO wheat trial permits unnecessary

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) says that by the first of the year, it will require permits to conduct field trials on GMO wheat. The USDA says the move will make it less likely that volunteer offspring of genetically engineered wheat would remain following field trials. APHIS says detection of GM wheat where it’s not authorized has the potential to disrupt U.S. wheat export markets, but the National Association of Wheat Growers has concerns about the rule change. NAWG President Brett Blankenship wonders what impact the permit requirement will have on research and production. “As we indicated to USDA during the comment period, we are concerned that the new rules will increase the cost of compliance and potentially impede wheat research programs, especially among small, private companies and public institutions whose resources for wheat research are already stretched,” said Blankenship, in a written statement. In 2013 and 2014, APHIS investigated genetically engineered wheat detected in Oregon and Montana wheat fields where it hadn’t been authorized. The source of the Oregon wheat wasn’t determined. The GMO wheat in Montana, however, was found to be from a previous GMO field trial conducted 10 years earlier with regulatory oversight. In both cases the wheat contained the identical Monsanto Roundup Ready trait, MON71800, for glyphosate resistance, but both were genetically different. Montana wheat grower Gordon Stoner, who is also the vice-president of NAWG, says that given the safety track record of GE crops, the added regulation is unnecessary. “There is no commercially available GE wheat in production, no GE wheat in any export channels, and no GE wheat varieties currently awaiting APHIS deregulation,” said Stoner, also in a written statement, “so having USDA-APHIS categorize future GE wheat research field trials for added scrutiny is both puzzling and potentially inhibiting for those seeking much needed public and private research investments.”  Link

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