Field workers at an Eastern Oregon wheat farm were clearing acres for the bare offseason when they came across a patch of wheat that didn’t belong.
The workers sprayed it and sprayed it, but the wheat wouldn’t die. Their confused boss grabbed a few stalks and sent it to a university lab in early May.
A few weeks later, Oregon State wheat scientists made a startling discovery: The wheat was genetically modified, in clear violation of U.S. law, although there’s no evidence that modified wheat entered the marketplace.
They contacted federal authorities, who ran more tests and confirmed their discovery.
“It looked like regular wheat ,” said Bob Zemetra, Oregon State’s wheat breeder.
No genetically engineered wheat has been approved for U.S. farming. U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said the wheat is the same strain as a genetically modified wheat that was legally tested by seed giant Monsanto a decade ago but never approved. Monsanto stopped testing that product in Oregon and several other states in 2005.