Agricultural giant Monsanto is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine how an experimental strain of wheat engineered to be resistant to herbicide ended up in cultivation in an Oregon field.
Monsanto is distancing itself from accountability, but isn’t ruling out the idea that someone else may have maliciously planted the company’s experimental “Roundup Ready” wheat – which hasn’t been in testing since 2005 – in an attempt to disrupt the market.
The Following the USDA’s revelation of the discovery last week, Japan and South Korea suspended some U.S. wheat purchases. One U.S. wheat farmer has also filed a Federal lawsuit, alleging Monsanto has harmed the market for his crop.
Monsanto technology officer Robb Fraley told reporters the Oregon wheat “seems likely to be a random, isolated occurrence more consistent with the accidental or purposeful mixing of a small amount of seed during the planting, harvesting or during the fallow cycle in an individual field,” and that sabotage “is certainly one of the options we are looking at.”