Monsanto GMO wheat stored in Colorado through '11

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

Monsanto Co's unapproved, experimental genetically engineered wheat, which is feared to have potentially contaminated U.S. wheat supplies after it was found growing in an Oregon field this spring, was kept in a U.S. government storage facility until at least late 2011, according to documents obtained by Reuters.

The revelation that the seed for the controversial genetically engineered wheat was kept viable in a Colorado storage facility as recently as a year and a half ago comes as the U.S. government is investigating how the strain of experimental wheat wound up growing in an Oregon field this spring.

The probe by the U.S. Department of Agriculture includes an examination of the handling of the GMO wheat seed that Monsanto directed be sent to the government-controlled National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Color., beginning in late 2004, according to Peter Bretting, who oversees the center for the USDA's Agricultural Research Service.

David Dierig, research leader at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, also said the matter was "under active investigation."

The National Center uses high-tech methods to extend the viability of seeds for decades, much longer than their viability in conventional storage. The facility took in at least 43 physical containers of Monsanto's so-called "Roundup Ready" wheat in late 2004 and early 2005, the documents show. The material represented more than 1,000 different unique varieties or lines, according to the documents that Monsanto provided in a heavily redacted format.

The documents were made up of correspondence between Monsanto and the Colorado facility.

Monsanto was shutting down its work with Roundup Ready wheat, altered to tolerate treatments of Roundup herbicide, when it set up a contract dated November 2, 2004, for the resources preservation center to store its wheat seed. Monsanto said the seed was confirmed incinerated on Jan. 5, 2012.

"At our direction, the seed was destroyed ... as it was old material and we had no plans for its future use," said Monsanto spokesman Thomas Helscher, who provided Reuters with the supporting documents. Monsanto also archived some of the wheat at its facilities in St. Louis, Mo.

When asked if USDA had accounted for all the supplies sent to the Colorado facility, USDA spokesman Ed Curlett said the government probe is seeking an answer to that question.

A USDA spokesman on Friday said the government does believe that all the seed it received was incinerated, and that it cannot account for seed that might have been sent elsewhere.

The Roundup Ready wheat was never approved for commercial use and was supposed to be tightly controlled. Monsanto has said it suspects someone covertly obtained its wheat seed and planted it in the Oregon field to sabotage Monsanto's work with biotech crops.

The government and Monsanto have said there is no indication the GMO wheat made it into commercial supplies, but the finding has hit Monsanto and the wheat industry hard.

Monsanto has been named in several lawsuits and over the last month, exports of U.S. western white wheat have been curtailed as foreign buyers shun the U.S. supplies and demand assurances that none of the biotech wheat has contaminated the marketplace.

Wheat growers want the mystery solved.

"Determining how it happened would certainly make it easier for us to make sure ... that it doesn't happen again, regardless of whether it was sabotage or some accident," said Blake Rowe, chief executive of the Oregon Wheat Commission. "Our customers would like to know how it happened."


Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...


Comments (5) Leave a comment 

Name
e-Mail (required)
Location

Comment:

characters left

Randy    
Nebraska  |  July, 01, 2013 at 04:08 PM

Leaves little doubt that this was a case of someone trying to sabotage biotech advances. How ironic it was planted and then that field was checked ?

Rocky    
Kansas  |  July, 01, 2013 at 04:55 PM

I hope wheat growers blame the right people in this case (the anti-technology greens) for screwing up the wheat markets during harvest. They don't care about wheat farmers, just their failed cause! Monsanto did the right thing in putting the seed in the government ran seed vault.

AgLander    
Missouri  |  July, 01, 2013 at 06:22 PM

Common logic points to sabotage. No R/R was found in samples taken from the seed the farmer originally planted or the harvested wheat from the planted field that went to market. Add to that, the the strange location of specific "hot spots" in less than 1% of the 100+ acre field where the R/R volunteer was found lead to the obvious conclusion that it was placed there in a deliberate act. No other explanation can explain it because if it had been in the planted seed it would have been randomly spread throughout the entire field by the planter. And the act of combining would also have randomly spread it through chaff distribution. This was a deliberate act of sabotage. Who had a motive? It sure would not have been Monsanto. The unethical and ruthless "greenies"? You bet. A slick individual or group looking for a quick payday in a lawsuit? Another "you bet"......whomever did it deserves a stiff fine and prison sentence.

JB    
July, 02, 2013 at 01:32 PM

While we're throwing around baseless accusations: Monsanto did it. They did it to contaminate the wheat supply so that once the contamination is widespread, all wheat will be 'roundup ready' and thus their unapproved product will be on the market, illegally, and growers/consumers will have no choice but to take part. With Monsanto's history of ethical business practices, this is as probable as any other theories around here. And a little perspective: While Monsanto's chief technology officer suggested eco-activists were to blame, Carol Mallory-Smith, a professor of weed sciences at Oregon State University said deliberate contamination was the least likely scenario: 'The sabotage conspiracy theory is even harder for me to explain or think as logical because it would mean that someone had that seed and was holding that seed for 10 or 12 years and happened to put it on the right field to have it found, and identified. I don't think that makes a lot of sense.'

Rich    
NW KS  |  July, 02, 2013 at 04:56 PM

Doubt Monsanto did it. RR wheat would wreck their volunteer wheat spraying market, which has to be significant acreage.


Kinze 1500 Grain Cart

The Kinze 1500 Grain Cart is engineered for speed and reliability required of custom harvesters. Load up to 1500 bushels ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form