GMO Wheat Case Gets Attention from Senator, Ag Secretary and KS Farmer

The provision to allow the continued sale of genetically modified seed if a court has ruled it hasn't been properly tested for its impact will not be extended as part of the farm bill. That's the promise made by Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow Tuesday. The provision is currently set to expire September 30th. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley introduced a farm bill amendment to repeal the provision in the fiscal year 2013 ag spending bill that allows the sale of genetically modified seed even if a court case is pending. He said his constituents are concerned about the recent discovery of genetically modified wheat - which has not been approved for commercialization - in an Oregon field. A Kansas wheat farmer has filed a civil lawsuit against Monsanto alleging gross negligence in that Oregon case. Monsanto Executive Vice President and General Counsel David Snively says the lawsuit is premature. The company hasn't been provided with a sample of the plant material reportedly obtained from the field and doesn't know what test was used on the seed that provided the positive result for the Monsanto Roundup Ready wheat event. Monsanto says existing testing technologies are likely to provide misleading results if applied to wheat.

The Hagstrom Report learned from U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday that USDA is working with independent testing companies to come up with a test for the presence of genetically modified wheat. He said the department is trying to find a test that will be quick and practical. One he described as a rapid protein test and the other as a more extensive DNA test. While uncertain when the test would be available to foreign buyers - Vilsack said USDA wants to make it available as soon as possible.

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