USDA Tightening Regulations for GM Wheat Trials

USDA will tighten regulations on genetically engineered wheat trials starting next month following the finding of GMO wheat growing in Oregon and Montana in 2013 and 2014. USDA announced late last week that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection will require developers to apply for a permit for field trials involving biotech wheat planted on or after January 1st. Since 1997, such trials have been authorized by notification, a less stringent process.

Reuters reports field trials of biotech wheat were never authorized at the Oregon site and the last authorization for a field trial at the Montana site expired 10 years earlier. In the announcement, USDA said “it became clear to us following the GE wheat incident in Oregon that the detection of regulated GE wheat where it was not authorized had great potential to disrupt wheat markets globally.”

With permits, USDA can require a longer period to monitor so-called “volunteer” plants, which can emerge following the harvest of a crop. USDA said it authorized 572 requests for field trials of various crops in 2014, including 21 for wheat. Most of the rest were for corn, soy and cotton.