Grain industry puts heat on APHIS
By MATTHEW WEAVER
LIND, Wash. -- The Pacific Northwest grain industry plans to apply pressure on the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to provide answers to the many questions surrounding the discovery of genetically modified wheat in a single Oregon field.
Tom Zwainz, chair of the Washington Grain Commission said the industry needs to start applying political pressure to APHIS.
The industry submitted a sheet of questions to APHIS but has not received a reply, Zwainz said.
"They know the answer to half of these questions," he said. "There's no reason they're not getting that out to us now."
Zwainz said wheat leaders need answers from APHIS as farmers near harvest in several weeks.
"We need to know as an industry what's going to be protocol if something comes up," Zwainz said. "The warehouse industry has to know how to handle things, too."
He spoke during the field day at Washington State University's Dryland Research Station in Lind, Wash.
Jim Moyer, director of WSU's Agricultural Research Center and associate dean of research, said the university plans to develop a special trial beginning next week. The university will plant seeds of every commercial wheat variety available in the state, and any others that wish to contribute.
Once the plot reaches a certain stage, researchers will spray the plants to determine whether there are any glyphosate-resistant plants.
"If there's escapes, we will spray a second time," he said. "And then if there's any survivors, we'll get them tested with the appropriate technology."
The plot will be four to five acres. Moyer declined to provide the location.
"I think it's better that we don't go into (the location)," he said.
Moyer expects the entire experiment will take a month to six weeks.
The university has tested material already grown, but hasn't tested everything in one spot in a uniform trial set up for this specific purpose, Moyer said.
The Washington State Crop Improvement Association will provide seed for the test.
Association manager Jerry Robinson said the association works with WSU, Oregon State University and other companies as a repository for seed planted in the Pacific Northwest.
Robinson said the test would be preliminary, a quick check to see if any seed stock has contamination.
"It's a way we can at least start a sense of being proactive and assure the growers we don't have any problems or issues with contamination with the seed stock coming out of any of these programs," he said.