Canada is reassuring export customers that there is no genetically modified (GM) wheat in the commercial or seed system.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) provided details about the discovery during a telephone newsconference on Thursday afternoon.
It all started last summer when some wheat plants survived a glyphosate treatment along an access road to an oil platform.
Seven plants were taken for testing and the rest of the patch was destroyed.
Testing over the winter confirmed the wheat contained a GM trait that was field tested by Monsanto about 15 to 20 years ago, but was never registered.
David Bailey, director of the CFIA Plant Production Division, says there is no relationship between the field trials and this specific location.
“The field trials for these were done many hundreds of kilometres away from the discovery site and many years ago.”
Bailey would not speculate about where the GM wheat plants may have originated. He is confident that the GM wheat did not leave the location, nor did it enter the grain handling or seed systems.
GM wheat was found on three separate occasions in the United States between 2013 and 2016. A few countries, such as Japan and South Korea, temporarily halted imports.
“We would expect our trading partners to make informed science based decisions based on the information outlined by the CFIA,” says Kathleen, Donohue, executive director, Market Access Coordination, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
There will be a three year monitoring program at the unidentifed location in southern Alberta.
“There will be measures applied including herbicides that will kill GM wheat, keeping the land fallow or not growing cereal crops in coming years, and the CFIA will performing regular inspection on the site to ensure no GM wheat is present,” says Dr. Heather Shearer, Acting National Manager of Plant Biosafety for CFIA.
Genetically modified wheat is not approved for use in Canada, however the trait that was found is approved for use in canola, corn, and soybeans.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has released a lengthy timeline explaining what has happened since the wheat was noticed last summer.
You can check the incident report here.
This is the timeline of events
Questions and answers