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The Seattle Times reports that two wheat farms in Oregon have filed suit against Monsanto, charging that their businesses have been harmed by the discovery in the state of a field of genetically modified wheat from seeds that Monsanto developed and supposedly discontinued almost a decade ago. At the same time, the Center for Food Safety has filed a similar suit. It is possible that one or both of the suits could achieve class action status.

The suits essentially say that farms in the state will lose business because of the discovery. Japan already has stopped importing wheat from the US because of fears that it could be genetically modified.

Monsanto says the suits are baseless and continues to deny any culpability in the case.

“While we have not yet had the opportunity to review the lawsuit,” said Monsanto Chief Litigation Counsel Kyle McClain in a prepared statement, “plaintiff’s filing suit now is premature since the facts to date show the report of [Roundup]-tolerant wheat is limited to one field in Oregon, and no such wheat has entered the stream of commerce.

“USDA has said the wheat crop is safe, [the Food and Drug Administration] confirmed food and feed safety in 2004, and USDA has stated repeatedly that there is no indication that glyphosate-tolerant wheat has entered commerce.”
KC's View:
Yes, I'm sure that Monsanto is shocked, shocked to discover that there is GM wheat growing in places in this country where it was not supposed to be growing.

I feel bad for farmers who may find themselves crushed by the Monsanto machine, and who now have to deal with loss of business and suspicions that their product may not be what they've been saying it is.

I was fascinated to see a note to customers from the Grand Central Bakery in Portland, Oregon, in which it said on its website:

Like many of you, we are troubled by the recent discovery of GMO wheat in an Oregon field. We share the concern about how this could happen and we strongly support GMO labeling. And we're confident that none of the flour in your bread was affected by the plants identified. Here's a statement from our longtime flour supplier, Shepherd's Grain...

From Shepherd's Grain:

Regarding the GMO found in Eastern Oregon two days ago, we want everyone to know the farmer in question is not a Shepherd’s Grain producer. Most important is that the plants in question were at an immature stage where no heading had occurred or resulting seeds formed. There is no chance of any flour being affected by those plants identified. 

Shepherd’s Grain, with our production system of direct seeding and a strong emphasis of rotation of crop types, is aimed toward not seeing any benefit from a GMO wheat. In addition we strongly oppose the commercialization of such a grain as the market simply is not comfortable with the science noting safety of the resulting product.

We support the fact finding that must be done to determine how these rogue seeds found their way to this field and the eradication of the plants in question. Bottom line, we hope this may further deter Monsanto from commercializing a GMO wheat until there is sufficient proof of the long-term safety within our environment.

We are confident that Shepherd’s Grain wheat and resulting flour is safe with our program of identity preservation throughout our system, and the products made with it should not be seen differently today.

With continued truth and transparency,

Karl Kupers, Debbie Danekas and the Shepherd's Grain Management Team


I don't know about you, but I find the statements from Grand Central and Shepherd's Grain to be a lot more reassuring ... because they're actually trying to be transparent about what they know, what it all means, and what the companies' positions are.

As opposed to Monsanto, which seems to have the position of a) we don't know how it got there, b) what's the big deal, anyway?, c) don't blame us, and d) transparency about products containing GMOs is bad policy.

Again, we're playing a game here of "who do you trust," except that it is not a game, and I'm not finding Monsanto to be very credible. Transparency is almost always good policy, and the continuing resistance only makes me wonder more and more about what they are hiding.