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Bizarre GMO wheat mystery in Oregon

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A farmer in Oregon recently discovered unkillable wheat in his fields. He'd sprayed the whole field with a pesticide called Roundup, but this patch of wheat wouldn't die. Convinced he'd discovered a new super-wheat mutation, he sent some to a scientist.

Carol Mallory-Smith was that scientist, an expert in weeds, who immediately knew that the wheat wasn't a super-strain. It's pretty much impossible for a plant to resist death after being treated with Roundup . . . unless it's a genetically-modified "Roundup Ready" strain, created by agribusiness giant Monsanto. But how could Monsanto wheat get into an Oregon farm? The answer proved to be even weirder than she imagined. After genetic testing, she discovered that it was indeed Monsanto wheat. But it was an experimental strain that was engineered 14 years ago.

Somehow, these experimental Monsanto seeds got mixed into wheat seeds being sold over a decade later.


On Scientific American, Arielle Duhaime-Ross writes:

On May 1, with GMO-positive test results in hand, Mallory-Smith contacted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Serviceto tell them that unapproved seeds which had been engineered 14 years beforehand . . . had somehow found their way into a wheat field in Oregon.


The Roundup Ready wheat program that produced these seeds was canceled a decade ago, but the company has resumed tests of the product in the past year. It's still not clear how the seeds made their way to Oregon.