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Senior Advisor

Re: GMO wheat gene escape

OSU's involvement identified the GE event, which there is every reason to believe they have the capability and responsibility to do. That has nothing to do with assigning blame or are they responsible to do so. The 'event' and variety have been identified to OSU's satisfaction. It is Monsanto's technology according to their tests and the variety is one that Monsanto inserted the 'event' for testing according to OSU. I don't think that is really the argument, though Monsanto was hedging early on.

 

The situation has to be defined quickly in terms of markets. Japan is holding quaranteed ships until a portable and easily administered test can be made they can use to verify whether GE wheat is onboard. The info so far indicates initial domestic testing hasn't revealed general contamination of the supply but it sounds as if further testing is not complete. My understanding is that the technology is available to create easy on the spot tests but, it is specific to the events inserted, and since RR wheat hasn't been released or available the quick tests aren't available as the companies that make them have had no reason to supply them..

 

There can be no waiting on this situation. It must be defined. Possible litigation has no bearing on that issue.

 

 

 

 

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Veteran Advisor

Re: GMO wheat gene escape

I remember a short time ago where the CEO  of  Cargill said corporations need to be responsible and if the GM folks don't want a producer free loading traits why is it OK to contaminate crops wishing to stay gmo free --- disgruntled employee or fraud seems to be a elementary cop out ---   

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Senior Contributor

Re: GMO wheat gene escape

The source of the contamination could remain a mystery, said Robert Zemetra, a professor of plant breeding and genetics at Oregon State University, which confirmed the presence of genetically modified wheat at the Oregon farm last month.

Mr. Zemetra, who conducted research trials of the Monsanto wheat more than a decade ago while at the University of Idaho, said it is possible for wheat pollen to drift from other fields and cause the genes to transfer to new plants. But it is unlikely that happened in this case, because the nearest research trials were a long distance from the farm where the contamination occurred, he said. He declined to provide details on the proximity of the trials.

He also said researchers had taken precautions to ensure that seeds from the trials would not spread to other farms. When the research was complete, researchers buried seeds that had not been used in the trials several feet underground, cleaned equipment in the fields and monitored the farms for two years to ensure no seed grew. Wheat seed could not survive several years in the ground, he added.

 

Since wheat pollen travels 30 feet at max.,  and these experimental fields were well isolated,  it ain't pollen drift.   Ruling out the Tooth Fairy,  there's disgruntled employee or enviro activist.

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Senior Advisor

Re: GMO wheat gene escape

Purposeful spreading of GE wheat in a random field in an isolated corner of Oregon and depending on a farmer to find it in a corner of his field - and then report it to a University for testing instead of disking it under or something - as some here have suggested - as an act of sabotage ???? I don't think it fits the idea of putting the material where it would be more likely to get attention. Irrigation here is usually not reserved for wheat except as a rotational crop. Potatoes, onions, alfalfa, mint, etc. would be more important crops.

 

If you want to be cynical there would be more motivation perhaps for Monsanto to secretly release it and make the introduction of GE wheat an irrelevant argument. I don't buy that either. I would guess it was carelessness or unknowingly overlooking something. Machinery not completely cleaned that sat (probably to be quarantined - or just overlooked in some shed). A stray sample bag accidently hidden by other stuff. Somebody finding some seed thought to be from a current operation and throwing it in when no one had an idea who put it there. Who knows? Wheat seed in a covered environment can be viable for many years.

 

It is Monsanto's problem unless there is credible evidence of a a criminal act. Chain of custody and secure storage are part of responsibility.

 

 

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Senior Contributor

Re: GMO wheat gene escape

Way too many downsides for Monsanto to want RR wheat released without govt approval and foreign market approval acceptance.

Lawsuits.   Public relations nightmare.   Fines. 

 

More likely since the university was involved,  some grad student was either careless,  or was an activist who snuck some seed and decided to raise hell with it.

 

 

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Honored Advisor

Re: GMO wheat gene escape

Palouser,  

I have made this mistake before and I do not like it---------  or Monsanto.  But

 

if they followed the procedure laid out and approved by usda to do the testing and can document it, and I am sure the participants in the trials are available to verify.

 

If the fields used for testing many years ago are and have been free of any GMO wheat since that time--8 years.

 

If the location of the growth of this plant tissue can be verified beyond a doubt.

 

If that location of recent growth of volunteer wheat(as infered by OSU) containing the trait is not a former test area, or( stated by           OSU) is substancial distance from any previous test areas----- 20-30 miles as I was led to think by reading.

 

Then the actual history of the genetic survival of the tested genetic parentage has been out of Monsanto's control for a very long time and distance.  I know this is not a court case at this time, but the assignment of blame to the company doing the research and development is going to be a very long stretch without more detail to the family tree of these plants.

 

I and others have mentioned a few other possibilities of liability ----- just to open the mind a bit.  But seriously  -------- The idea that the company would purposely break the law to get a product introduced is pretty far fetched.

Creating the super weed we can't kill with our limited herbicide choices has kept Monsanto out of Rye or Grain Sorghum for many years.  This is just too risky.  I don't even hate monsanto enough to believe that is plausable.

 

I know this is a "forrest for the trees" event for the NW, but how many years now have we watched this sort of opportunistic marketing decision and price control process play out.   Alar, mad cow, e-coli , pink slime, starlink, gmo fed livestock, etc--------- and we are always defensive and blaming ourselves.

The truth in this case may or may not come out.  And I will be as upset as you are if OSU or USDA ends up saying the tests are not as conclusive as we first thought----------------so far-------- IMO--------- Our customer, Japan, is taking advantage of this opportunity without one positive test on anything they have bought.  We are intelligent enough to lead the world in ag research and development and not smart enough to trade from a position of strength.  "The customer is not always right"--------- in this area very possibly wrong about plant modification research. 

If we had any guts we would demand those cargo ships back and deny them entry to our waters after testing it for radiation.  Then go after our customer for their contamination of the Pacific waters.  Smiley Happy

 

 

 

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Senior Advisor

Re: GMO wheat gene escape

Might be some emotional satifaction in your reply but basically it is not realistic.

 

I believe the identification is 'nailed'. OSU's finding weren't 'tentative'. Not the issue.

 

The issue is consequences. As a wheat farmer in the region affected I'm not enthusiastic about playing games by blaming the customer. And neither would you be if it was affecting you directly.

 

I'll repeat. Monsanto is the owner of the trait. They will have to come up with a hell of a story to explain an escape without being ultimately responsible. I don't see any future in trying to rationalize that Monsanto isn't to blame unless there is evidence to the contrary. Believe me, if there is evidence for criminal behavior then Monsanto will get it out to the press PRONTO!

 

 

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Honored Advisor

Re: GMO wheat gene escape

Palouser--------  sorry but for now Japan is not your customer--

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Senior Contributor

Re: GMO wheat gene escape

Monsanto may own the trait,  just as I own some cattle,  land with fences.    So if vandals cut my fences and the cattle get out,  am I responsible or are the vandals responsible?   Yeah,  I own the cattle but I maintained the fences in good order until the vandals cut them.

 

If Monsanto screwed up by ignoring the EPA requirements for test plot isolation,  failed to destroy the crop as required,  etc.,  then yes,  they are responsible.   But the question is,  how did the seed get to this farmer's land years after this experiment ceased?   Monsanto has every motivation for this not to happen.    Lawsuits,  bad public relations,  invoking even more govt. regulations,  ticking off other nations,  are just some of the obvious fallout. 

 

Now on the other hand,  examine the motivation of a vandal.    The anti-biotech activists in EU often destroy private property,  and raise he!! in their war on biotech companies.  I'd be doing detective work on the grad students the university had involved in these test plots to check on their politics.  Or a rouge professor? 

 

 

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Senior Advisor

Re: GMO wheat gene escape

And if tests show any wheat Japan received has GMO then they won't be our customer for a long time to come.

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