In Oregon, The GMO Wheat Mystery Deepens

argylesock says… Here’s more: Tim Sandle at Digital Journal tells us about the controversy arising after a ‘[t]rial GM Monsanto wheat end[ed] up in a farmer’s field.’ In that article Mr Sandle says, ‘Monsanto[‘s] chief technology officer, Robert Fraley, thinks that someone else planted the wheat… “The fact pattern indicates the strong possibility that someone intentionally introduced [the GM] wheat seed… into his field, sometime after that farmer initially planted it.”’ But ‘Carol Mallory-Smith, a weed scientist, told the science site Nature that Monsanto could not have maintained control over its experimental wheat: “There are so many places in the system where errors can be made. Once we release these genes into the field, we should just assume that they are going to stay in the environment.”’


The strange case of genetically engineered wheat on a farm in Oregon remains as mysterious as ever. If anything, it’s grown more baffling.

As we reported almost two months ago, the presence of this wheat was revealed earlier this spring when a farmer in eastern Oregon sprayed a field with the weedkiller glyphosate, or Roundup. Most vegetation died, as the farmer intended, but clumps of green wheat stalks kept growing. They apparently had sprouted from grain that was leftover in the field from last year’s crop.

It was such a strange sight that the farmer wondered if this wheat might be genetically modified to be resistant to glyphosate, just like the popular Roundup Ready versions of corn and soybeans. He called a weed scientist named Carol Mallory-Smith at Oregon State University to ask her opinion.

“I said I didn’t think so,” recalls Mallory-Smith. The biotech company Monsanto had developed…

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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