GM Wheat Escape Incidents
Update June 10, 2019
- There is no genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) wheat approved or commercialized anywhere in the world.
- There have been four incidents where GM wheat has escaped in the US – in 2019, 2016, 2014, and 2013 – and one reported in Canada in 2018.
GM Wheat Escape Incidents in North America
- On June 7, 2019, the US Department of Agriculture confirmed the discovery of genetically engineered glyphosate-tolerant wheat plants growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington State.
- In 2018, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) disclosed the discovery of several GM wheat plants found growing on a roadside in Alberta. The GM wheat did not enter the food system. The plants contained GM event MON71200, which had been field-tested by Monsanto from 1998-2000 in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The CFIA could not determine the cause of the escape and said, “We may never know how this GM wheat came to be present on an access road.”
- In 2016, a farmer in Washington State discovered 22 of Monsanto’s GM glyphosate-tolerant wheat plants in an unplanted field. The variety had been tested in field trials in the Pacific Northwest between 1998 and 2000.
- In 2014, Monsanto’s GM wheat was found growing on a former trial site at a university research centre in Montana.
- In 2013, a farmer in Oregon found Monsanto’s GM wheat in her field. The US Department of Agriculture was “unable to determine exactly how the GE wheat came to grow in the farmer’s field.” Japan and South Korea suspended imports of US wheat while China, Thailand, European member states, and the Philippines tightened inspections. Farmers successfully filed two lawsuits against Monsanto, claiming that the company had failed to protect their markets from contamination. Monsanto paid US farmers $2.75 million to settle the lawsuits.
For references and further details see “GM Contamination in Canada: The failure to contain living modified organisms – incidents and impacts” www.cban.ca/ContaminationReport2019 and www.cban.ca/wheat