The announcement from the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on June 7 that genetically engineered (GE) wheat plants were discovered growing in an unplanted (fallow) field in Washington State came with many emotions for wheat farmers, their domestic and overseas customers and for those of us who work on behalf of U.S. farmers.
We know there is frustration over why and how this has happened, and not for the first time. There is a sense of helplessness, not knowing how to resolve the situation. And there is plenty of concern about how it will affect your interests. We share the same emotions with farmers, customers and colleagues.
We also hope you find reassurance from an independent resource like APHIS that there is no indication wheat from these plants has entered commercial supplies nor the food system, and that detailed U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigations found no human or animal health risks from the GE wheat that was last tested about 15 years ago.
Respectfully, our customers have a right to take an abundance of caution related in this matter. Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are expecting an identification of the specific GE trait, known as an “event,” in the wheat plants identified in Washington State. Our organization requested the same information and urged officials to complete their testing, reach conclusions and provide those results to our customers as quickly as possible.
APHIS had confirmed the plants in this situation have a GE event for resistance to glyphosate but at the time had not yet identified the specific event. Identification is important because Korean and Japanese government agencies have been testing all imported U.S. wheat for two glyphosate resistant events since 2013. That testing had never identified those two traits in about 30 million metric tons of U.S. wheat.
We want to assure you that U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and every stakeholder in this situation has been and will continue taking all appropriate actions to ensure that U.S. wheat, wheat flour and wheat foods remain safe, wholesome and nutritious for people, and in animal feed, around the world.
Nothing is more important to the U.S. wheat industry than the trust we have earned with customers at home and around the world by providing a reliable supply of high-quality wheat.
We thank you all for your reasonable and patient approach to this unfortunate situation.