Monsanto officials discovered unapproved, experimental GMO wheat in one of their Oregon wheat fields on June 21. “What happened in this field is suspicious [and] this situation is extremely isolated,” Monsanto Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley said via a conference call.
Monsanto, the world’s largest sustainable agriculture company, was one of the first companies to experiment with altered crops. However, these findings seem to be suspicious due to the fact that Monsanto was unaware of this GMO wheat’s presence in these fields.
These officials said they would hold more investigations to determine how this genetically altered wheat started growing in the field. So far, during Friday’s testing, Monsanto found no sign of contaminated wheat in over 97 percent of the rest of Oregon’s wheat fields, which leads the Monsanto officials to believe this incident was caused by sabotage.
One incident in June that sparked the USDA’s interest in Monsanto’s GMO crops was the destruction of two plots of land in southern Oregon where genetically modified beets were planted, and the FBI declared it a case of “economic sabotage”.
However, this is not the first incident Monsanto has been involved with regarding genetically engineered wheat. In 2005, officials sent some experimental wheat to a storage facility in Colorado, where they use methods to keep the wheat seeds in tact for much longer than normal. While the U.S Department of Agriculture is investigating this tampering issue, Monsanto stated that all the seeds they sent to the Colorado storage center have since been destroyed.
The USDA announced in late May that they were investigating Monsanto’s genetically modified wheat plants because it was said to have large amounts of herbicide infesting these crops. Since then, during the month of June, US white wheat has cut down the number of overseas exports to prevent future contamination in markets outside the U.S.
If Monsanto is discovered to have sabotaged their own Oregon wheat fields, the stakes are potentially very high for the world’s biggest seed production company, with farmers already filing lawsuits citing damages from Monsanto due to lower wheat prices.