Earlier this month, an Oregon farmer discovered wheat that he didn’t plant growing in his field. After testing by the USDA, the crop was determined to be a particular strain of genetically modified wheat legally tested by agricultural biotech giant Monsanto a decade ago. So what’s the problem? Testing was halted in 2005 because the seed never received government approval.
The Agriculture Department has stated that the crop is safe to eat and that there is no evidence to suggest that GMO wheat ended up in the marketplace. However, the fact that highly regulated plant material that allegedly hasn’t been used in eight years simply appeared on a farm is still alarming for a number of reasons. How did the seeds get there? Were they accidentally blown in by the weather, or did someone illegally plant them without the farmer’s knowledge? More importantly, if the GMO crop growth is widespread, it could have disastrous implications for international trade. European countries that import our food have already expressed concern about GMOs, and we could be in a lot of trouble if non-approved genetically modified materials find their way into food exports. The USDA is investigating the origin of the crop to rule out criminal activity.
While genetically modified foods have not yet been scientifically proven to be harmful, they aren’t without their risks. Plants are often modified to resist the herbicides they’re treated with, but that doesn’t stop the absorption of those herbicides into our bodies. Additionally, the micro-ribonucleic acid that our bodies absorb from GMOs could potentially have a negative effect on human genes. Could this incident finally push the government to do something about GMO labeling and testing? We certainly hope so.
[via Huffington Post]