Monsanto reiterated its full support to the U.S. wheat industry and regulatory authorities in the United States and wheat-importing countries following the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) reported detection of the original Roundup Ready wheat trait, technically referred to as the MON71800 event, growing in a single unplanted field in Oregon.
Monsanto has provided a validated testing method for the original Roundup Ready wheat trait to the USDA, and, more recently, to government regulators in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the European Union, as requested. The method will provide these governments with the opportunity to precisely and accurately test for the original Roundup Ready wheat trait and distinguish it from traits that are already approved and widely used in other crops.
The company said the test, which was designed in line with rigorous global testing protocols, is more reliable than currently available tests designed for testing other crops since it pinpoints the specific trait in question. The company noted these existing testing technologies, such as PCR, strip tests or dip stick tests, are likely to provide misleading results if applied to wheat. The validated testing method is expected to further ensure confidence in testing resources available to these valuable export markets. The company said it would provide the validated method to other leading agriculture regulatory authorities as requested.
“We have cooperated with the USDA and other regulatory authorities so that they can continue to have full confidence in U.S. wheat exports,” said Philip Miller, vice president of Regulatory Affairs for Monsanto. “While the USDA has noted that they have no evidence that the original Roundup Ready wheat trait has entered commerce, our support is aimed at ensuring that the U.S. wheat industry and wheat farmers do not experience disruptions in exports.”
Monsanto noted there are no food, feed or environmental safety concerns associated with the presence of the Roundup Ready trait if it is found to be present in wheat. The glyphosate-tolerance trait used in the original Roundup Ready wheat product has a long history of safe use and produces the same protein that has been and is used widely in corn, soy and several other crops by millions of farmers throughout the world. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed the food and feed safety of Roundup Ready wheat in 2004. The safety of the Roundup Ready gene and protein has been reviewed and approved by regulatory authorities in every country around the world to which crops containing that gene have been submitted for cultivation or import approval, including Japan, Korea and the EU.
“We are interested in getting to the bottom of this reported detection in a single field in Oregon,” Miller said. “We’re prepared to provide any technical help that we can as this unusual and currently unexplained report raises important questions about the circumstance and source of the presence.”
Last week, the company noted it is in the process of investigating the matter and is prepared to take actions, once the investigation results are known, to support the wheat industry. Key findings of the assessments include:
- Monsanto’s process for closing out the original Roundup Ready wheat program was rigorous, well-documented and audited;
- Monsanto did not have any prior test site at the location where the material under investigation was reported to have been present;
- Monsanto believes this is an isolated incident. Wheat farmers commonly control volunteer plants with glyphosate to prepare fields for the next crop. Monsanto said the situation has not arisen in other farmers fields throughout the 9 years since the program was discontinued;
- Monsanto confirmed it does not believe that seed left in the soil or wheat pollen flow serve as a reasonable explanation behind this reported detection at this time.
- Monsanto has not been provided with a sample of the plant material reportedly obtained from the field and is not yet able to confirm the results announced last week by the USDA.
Monsanto reiterated there is considerable reason to believe that the presence of the Roundup Ready trait in wheat, if confirmed, is very limited.
The website, www.monsanto.com/gmwheat, has been established for those interested in learning about ongoing developments related to the reported detection. The site also includes information resources the company’s investments in wheat and wheat technology.