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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs