Condemn Discovery of Illegal Genetically Engineered Wheat Strain

Wheat Field.

Target: Hugh Grant, CEO of Monsanto Company

Goal: Demand answers regarding the discovery of an unapproved genetically engineered wheat strain.

A farmer in Oregon recently discovered patches of wheat in his field that were growing irregularly. After sending samples of the plant to Carol Mallory-Smith, a scientist at Oregon State University, tests concluded that the wheat strain is genetically engineered. In particular, it is resistant to the pesticide Roundup (also known as glyphosate). This type of genetic trait, tested by Monsanto (a St. Louis-based multinational seed company) from 1998-2005, has never been approved for commercial growing in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world. Monsanto’s last field trial of the wheat strain in Oregon was in 2001; no one seems to know how it spread or if it has ever been harvested.

By law, experimental crops are required to be completely removed at the end of field trials. Although the USDA has reviewed the modified strain and determined it to be safe, other issues still undeniably remain. This is not the first time that an unapproved plant strain has been found: a 2008 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office observed six “unauthorized” releases of genetically modified organisms into the U.S. feed and food supplies over the previous eight years. This evidence undercuts U.S. agricultural regulations and further brings into question the practices of companies like Monsanto.

This controversy may also have an effect upon the U.S. wheat market and international trade. If the modified wheat strain has spread into the food supply, wheat sales may experience significant declines. This is due to the fact that many other countries are hostile towards genetically engineered foods. Already, Japan (the largest market for U.S. wheat exports) has suspended wheat imports from the U.S. and canceled a major purchase due to the controversy in Oregon.

Steve Mercer, Vice President of the U.S. Wheat Associates, states that farmers are not interested in using genetically engineered traits unless “they have gone through approvals in the U.S. and in other countries.” By signing this petition, you are supporting American wheat farmers and consumers and demanding answers regarding the discovery of Monsanto’s unapproved wheat strain. Unless an investigation can bring insight and transparency to this controversy, it will continue to delegitimize U.S. agricultural regulations and negatively impact our trade and economy.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Mr. Grant,

Recently, a farmer in Oregon discovered patches of your Roundup-resistant wheat strain. Analysis at both Oregon State University and the USDA confirmed that your experimental crop had somehow entered in the farmer’s field. This type of genetic trait, which you tested from 1998-2005, has never been approved for commercial growing in the U.S. nor anywhere else in the world. Disturbingly, no one seems to know how it spread or if it has ever been harvested.

Although the USDA has reviewed the wheat strain and determined it to be safe, it should have been completely removed at the end of your field trials by law. This is not the first time that an unapproved plant strain has been found: a 2008 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office observed six “unauthorized” releases of GMOs into the U.S. feed and food supplies over the previous eight years. This controversy may also have a profound effect upon the U.S. wheat market and international trade. If the modified wheat strain has spread into the food supply, wheat sales may experience significant declines. Already, Japan (the largest market for U.S. wheat exports) has suspended wheat imports from the U.S. and canceled a major purchase due to the controversy in Oregon.

Agricultural groups have stated that farmers are not interested in using genetically engineered traits unless they have gone through approvals in the U.S. and in other countries. I am urging you to support American wheat farmers and consumers and deliver answers regarding the discovery of your unapproved wheat strain. Until a thorough and transparent explanation is provided, the controversy will continue to delegitimize U.S. agricultural regulations and negatively impact our trade and economy.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Afonin via Wikimedia Commons

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