Comment sought on plan to bolster oversight of GE wheat field trials

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2015 - USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is inviting public comment on a proposed plan to strengthen oversight of field trials for genetically engineered wheat, following two recent detections of GE wheat where the plants should not have been growing. No varieties of GE wheat have been deregulated by APHIS.

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APHIS said it will consider all comments received on or before Oct. 26. The proposed plan calls for all future field trials of GE wheat to be done under APHIS permit, to include requirements for more stringent post-harvest monitoring for so-called volunteer plants, which grow following the harvest of a crop. 

Volunteers are common following field trials of regulated GE plants, but APHIS says their presence must be “appropriately addressed” in order to prevent the establishment, and possible spread, of GE plants that have not been approved.

In 2013 and 2014, APHIS investigated the detections of GE wheat found growing in unauthorized fields in Oregon and Montana, respectively. APHIS could not determine the source of the unauthorized GE wheat in Oregon. While the investigation into the detection in Montana remains open, the unauthorized GE wheat was found at the location of a previous field trial of GE wheat conducted under APHIS' regulatory oversight.

APHIS said comments can be submitted by going to regulations.gov, where relevant documents are also available.

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