USDA-APHIS announced recently that volunteer wheat growing in an Oregon field has been confirmed to be resistant to glyphosate. Reports indicate the glyphosate resistance is due to the same transgenic event that was used in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready wheat. More information from the National Association of Wheat Growers and Agri-Pulse. The good news is that this wheat event has already been reviewed by the FDA (back in 2004) and found to be as safe as conventional wheat for food and feed uses. So this finding poses no risk to the food supply.
UPDATE: Monsanto’s response can be found here. In their statement, they seem to hold some doubt that the wheat found actually has Monsanto’s glyphosate resistant transgene. From the Monsanto statement:
The necessary testing requires sophisticated methods, considerable expertise and meticulous laboratory techniques to generate reliable results. Commercial test strips, which are used to detect the presence of glyphosate tolerance in soybeans, canola, cotton and sugar beets, generate a very high incidence of false positive detections (greater than 90 percent) and are not reliable for wheat. We have asked for information necessary to confirm the presence of the Roundup Ready trait in the samples that were tested. Up to this point, Monsanto has not received details about the testing USDA has performed, nor has UDSA provided us with samples necessary to verify their findings
I’ve heard the information about false positives from using test strips for other crops before, so if this is indeed the method used to “confirm” the presence of the gene, then I would reserve judgement until the results are confirmed using other methods.
UPDATE 2: I’ve just learned that the wheat plant(s) in question were tested by 2 independent laboratories within Oregon State University for the presence of the glyphosate resistance transgene using a variety of molecular methods. APHIS was notified shortly after these tests confirmed the presence of the transgene, which led APHIS to begin their own investigation. So it seems that there is little doubt that the glyphosate resistant wheat in Oregon has the glyphosate-resistant transgene, and did not evolve glyphosate-resistance independently. The main question now, is how did it get there?
The Biofortified blog has a great collection of information about this story that will be updated as more information is known The Biofortified post has been removed for some reason…