Washington State University researchers have tested all the university’s wheat varieties, as well as others around the Northwest, and found none with the genetically modified herbicide resistance discovered in an Oregon crop this spring.
WSU’s tests involved wheat varieties developed at the university, at sister universities and by two of the three largest commercial wheat seed companies in the Pacific Northwest. Among them were nearly 50 commercially grown varieties from WSU, the University of Idaho and Oregon State University, including new WSU varieties such as Otto, Puma, Sprinter, Glee, Diva and Dayn and 24 varieties from Westbred/Monsanto and Limagrain Cereal Seeds.
The time-consuming process also included 1,900 advanced breeding lines from WSU programs and more than 20,000 individual plots.
The tests involved growing seed, spraying infant plants with the herbicide glyphosate and conducting molecular testing if necessary. None of the plants showed the transgenic glyphosate resistance found in the fields of an as-yet-unnamed Oregon farmer.
Late last month, the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said grain tests and interviews with several hundred farmers found no other instances of glyphosate resistant crops.
"WSU undertook its own investigation as part of its commitment to serving Northwest farmers and the agricultural industry as a whole,” said James Moyer, director of WSU’s Agricultural Research Center.
The level of collaboration and cooperation in the WSU testing from Pacific Northwest universities and major industry partners was unprecedented and reflects the common interest and goal of determining whether the genetically modified wheat discovered in Oregon was an isolated case or if the industry had a larger problem. WSU’s data clearly suggests this was an isolated case, Moyer said.
"Although WSU is not conducting research on wheat with the same properties as the variety found in Oregon, any unusual or unauthorized plant quality in the supply chain warrants a thorough assessment by all participants to maintain the confidence of Washington trading partners and consumers,” he said.