Scientists unswayed by Monsanto’s conclusions on rogue wheat

Sabotage Concern

Monsanto hasn’t ruled out sabotage, Fraley said.

For the world’s largest seedmaker, targeted by global protests over genetically modified foods, the biggest risks are likely to be from farmers confronting export restrictions. Farmers balked at Monsanto’s research into a genetically modified wheat for that reason, and the company had disbanded its research of this variety in 2005.

All of the tested seeds were either destroyed or recovered and sent to a USDA facility in Colorado for storage, the company said. Because these Roundup-resistant plants existed on only one of two of the farmer’s fields and haven’t popped up in other farms since 2005, the occurrence is either “inadvertent or purposeful mixing of seed,” Fraley said.

It’s that jump that independent scientists question.

“Sure they tested it, but that doesn’t mean it’s all clean,” David Andow, a professor of entomology at the University of Minnesota, said in an interview. “It just means it’s not so widespread that it could be detected easily.”

In previous cases, such as during the outbreak of herbicide-resistant weeds in recent years, Monsanto has initially played down the risks, said Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, a group critical of Monsanto’s genetically-modified research.

“The reality is that nobody knows what happened until extensive testing is done,” he said.

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