Statement from WSU on GM wheat situation
For more than 100 years, Washington State University has worked to improve and maintain the quality of wheat in our state. We want to assure you that we are doing everything in our power to continue that tradition in the wake of concerns about transgenic wheat found in a Northwest field.
Since the discovery of glyphosate-resistant wheat last month in Oregon, Washington State University has launched a comprehensive effort to screen all wheat germplasm in its programs. So far, we have screened public and private varieties representing 90 percent Washington's soft white wheat crop and found no evidence of glyphosate-resistant wheat. We have also screened nearly three-fourths of the less heavily planted spring wheat varieties, with similar results.
It is a time-consuming process that to date has involved 60 varieties, 1,900 advanced breeding lines and more than 20,000 individual plots from WSU programs. The screening includes 26 commercially grown varieties from both WSU and Oregon State University, including new varieties such as Otto, Puma, Sprinter, Glee, Diva and Dayn. We expect testing to be done by the end of the month and will ultimately include all the germplasm in the WSU spring and winter wheat breeding programs and the Uniform Cereal Variety Testing Program.
WSU scientists and administrators are confident that a thorough assessment of the university's wheat breeding and variety testing program, including a coordinated assessment of Washington State Crop Improvement Association material, will aid in the search for answers to the mystery of how the glyphosate-resistant material appeared in the Oregon field, if only through a process of elimination.
We are coordinating our efforts with the Washington wheat industry and appropriate state, federal and private parties.
There have been no reports of transgenic wheat plants in commercial fields other than the single report in Oregon announced by USDA-APHIS on May 29. If growers observe wheat plants surviving a glyphosate treatment they should make a second, spot application to the affected plants. If plants survive the second treatment we recommend growers contact their local county extension office for assistance with additional sampling and analysis.
We also recommend that wheat growers plant certified seed this fall. Certified seed provides an extra measure of assurance of seed quality and purity.
Of course, we will keep you apprised of our efforts with an eye towards ensuring that our wheat crops continue to be among the most reliable in agriculture, warranting the confidence of growers, industry leaders and your customers.
Jim Moyer, Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Agricultural Research Center
Rich Koenig, Associate Dean and Director of Extension
College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences Washington State University