McMorris Rodgers pushes USDA on Genetically Engineered Wheat Discovery

Rep. McMorris Rodgers Urges USDA to Find Source of Genetically Engineered Wheat Discovered in Oregon

 

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers sent a letter to Mr. Kevin Shea, Acting Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Monday, requesting an investigation timeline and a formal meeting to discuss the genetically engineered wheat found in Oregon earlier this month. The following are excerpts from the letter.

“Wheat growers play a significant role in Eastern Washington’s economy and I am concerned that Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, key trading partners, have delayed purchases of white wheat. As such, I want to ensure that they do not look for alternative suppliers. We need to assure all of our trading partners that the Northwest will continue to provide a reliable supply of high-quality wheat. Therefore, it is important that APHIS determine how this occurrence happened…”

“…Moving forward, I request that APHIS provide a timeline for this investigation. Due to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan delaying purchases of white wheat, wheat growers in Eastern Washington are already experiencing a decline in wheat prices. Knowing that 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.”

 

The full text of the letter follows:

 

###

 

 

June 17, 2013

 

Mr. Kevin Shea                                                                                

Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service                                                             

United States Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave, SW

Washington, DC 20250                                                  

 

Dear Administrator Shea:

 

The discovery of genetically engineered wheat on an Oregon farm is a serious matter that has far reaching consequences for wheat growers in Eastern Washington. As such, I write to encourage the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to conduct their investigation into this occurrence in a judicious and expeditious manner. 

As APHIS continues their investigation, it is important to determine what classification of wheat found in Oregon was genetically engineered. From agriculture stakeholders in Eastern Washington, I understand that it is easier to determine the classification of wheat than to test and determine whether it has been genetically engineered. To that end, I question why APHIS has been unable to determine what classification of wheat was genetically engineered.

In addition, it is my understanding that APHIS has failed to accept assistance from key stakeholder organizations, like the Washington Crop Improvement Association, and universities. In addition to possessing first-hand knowledge of the wheat community in Eastern Oregon and Washington, these organizations are industry leaders, known for their exceptional and ground-breaking agriculture research. As such, I question why APHIS has been unwilling to utilize these organizations for their knowledge and expertise regarding wheat, specifically wheat grown in the Pacific Northwest.

Wheat growers play a significant role in Eastern Washington’s economy and I am concerned that Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, key trading partners, have delayed purchases of white wheat. As such, I want to ensure that they do not look for alternative suppliers. We need to assure all of our trading partners that the Northwest will continue to provide a reliable supply of high-quality wheat. Therefore, it is important that APHIS determine how this occurrence happened.

Moving forward, I request that APHIS provide a timeline for this investigation. Due to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan delaying purchases of white wheat, wheat growers in Eastern Washington are already experiencing a decline in wheat prices. Knowing that 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. 

Finally, I would like to request a meeting with you to receive a formal update on APHIS’s investigation, specifically discussing the expanse of this occurrence. If there is anything I can do to facilitate the meeting, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Member of Congress

 

 

 

Cc:          Secretary Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture

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