News / Science & Technology

US Seeks Fast Test to Settle GM Wheat Scare

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks at the DuPont Beaver Creek research facility, in Johnston, Iowa, March 29, 2013.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks at the DuPont Beaver Creek research facility, in Johnston, Iowa, March 29, 2013.
Reuters
The U.S. government is working with private companies to develop a rapid test for genetically modified wheat in response to fears about an unapproved wheat strain, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday.

Buyers in Asia and Europe have shunned U.S. wheat since the USDA announced last week that a strain of wheat, modified by Monsanto Co. for herbicide tolerance, was found in an Oregon field. Genetically modified wheat is not approved for cultivation anywhere in the world.

Vilsack said development of a reliable, low-cost test for GM wheat was an Agriculture Department priority. Asked how soon a test would be available, Vilsack said, “Obviously, as soon as we can do it.”

Current tests are expensive and time consuming, and the new test is intended to be quick and easy.

Vilsack's remarks, on the sidelines of a USDA event focused on cutting down food waste, were his first public comments on the subject since the GM wheat find was announced on May 29.

USDA officials have said daily there are no signs GM wheat was in commercial channels. Vilsack said development of a rapid test would allow grain exporters and processors to assure customers that their products are safe to eat.

With that assurance, he said, “The markets will be re-opened.”

Japan, South Korea and the European Union have said they plan to test incoming wheat shipments for GM wheat. Preliminary tests by Korea on U.S. wheat and flour were negative, officials said on Monday. Final results are expected on Wednesday.

USDA was in “ongoing communication” with trading partners and customers about the investigation, said Vilsack.

Two approaches are available for a GM wheat test, said Vilsack. One test, used on corn and soybeans, examines protein in crop. The other method is a DNA test.

USDA's other priority is to find the source of the GM wheat that sprouted in the northeast Oregon field. The unwanted “volunteer” seedlings survived when sprayed with the weed killer glyphosate, which led to tests that identified the wheat as a Monsanto strain.

Other fields on the farm tested negative for the wheat, said a USDA spokesman.

Some $9 billion in U.S. wheat exports hang in the balance. The United States, the world's largest farm exporter, exports nearly half of its wheat crop.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid