Monsanto Co. (MON), the world’s largest seed company, said experimental wheat engineered to survive Roundup weedkiller may have gotten into an Oregon field through an “accidental or purposeful” act.
Monsanto and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are investigating how genetically modified wheat that hasn’t been approved for commercial planting was found growing on an Oregon farm eight years after nationwide field tests ended.
Monsanto’s genetic analyses found the variety hasn’t contaminated the types of seed planted on the Oregon farm or the wheat seed typically grown in Oregon and Washington state, Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley said today on a call with reporters. The unapproved wheat was found growing on less than 1 percent of the farmer’s 125-acre (51-hectare) field, Fraley said.
“It 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,” Fraley said on the call.
Asked whether the St. Louis-based company is suggesting the incident could be an act of sabotage, Fraley said, “That is certainly one of the options we are looking at.”
Fraley said he doesn’t mean to suggest the farmer who made the discovery is responsible.