Rep requests APHIS meeting, timeline in GMO wheat probe
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., has requested a timeline for the USDA investigation into genetically engineered wheat found in northeast Oregon in May.
In a letter to Kevin Shea, acting administrator of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS,) McMorris Rodgers requested a meeting for a formal update on the investigation.
McMorris Rodgers encouraged APHIS to conduct the investigation in a "judicious and expeditious" manner.
"It is my understanding that APHIS has failed to accept assistance from key stakeholder organizations," McMorris Rodgers wrote in the letter to Shea, naming the Washington Crop Improvement Association and regional universities. "I question why APHIS has been unwilling to utilize these organizations for their knowledge and expertise regarding wheat, specifically wheat growers in the Pacific Northwest."
McMorris Rodgers also questioned why APHIS has been unable to determine what classification of wheat was genetically engineered.
Eastern Washington wheat growers are already experiencing a decline in wheat prices, McMorris Rodgers said, due to delayed purchases of white wheat by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
"Knowing the start of harvest is imminent, I am concerned that if harvest begins and APHIS is still unable to determine how this occurrence happened, wheat prices will continue to remain depressed," she stated in the letter.
- Matthew Weaver