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USDA confirms unapproved GMO wheat found in Washington state

Twenty-two unapproved genetically modified (GMO) wheat plants have been found growing in Washington state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said on Friday but the strain, developed by Monsanto, has not been traced in commercial supplies.

GMO wheat
Genetically modified wheat stands in a test field near Durbin, N.D. Forum photo by Bruce Crummy

Twenty-two unapproved genetically modified (GMO) wheat plants have been found growing in Washington state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said on Friday but the strain, developed by Monsanto, has not been traced in commercial supplies.

There are currently no commercially approved genetically modified wheat varieties and incidences of rogue plants are rare. The first case was in 2013 in Oregon, which prompted buyers including South Korea and Japan to stop buying U.S. wheat. More unapproved wheat was found in Montana in 2014.

South Korea said earlier on Friday that the country will step up quarantine measures for U.S. milling and feed wheat shipments.

"We plan to strictly inspect imports of U.S. wheat and flour and clear customs only for the wheat products that are confirmed not to have any genetically modified wheat," said an official at the South Korean food ministry.

The USDA said Monsanto had developed a test for MON 71700, the strain found in Washington state, which would be available for its trading partners.

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The latest finding is a slightly different strain than the one discovered in 2013, although both were developed to withstand applications of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto's popular Roundup herbicide.

Monsanto, which had said all the experimental grain was destroyed or stored away, was sued by U.S. wheat farmers over the 2013 market disruption. The company settled the lawsuit and agreed to pay farmers and grain groups more than $2.5 million, but did not admit liability.

Related Topics: WHEAT
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