All posts by jkoyle

Is Organic Wheat Genetically Modified?

In 2013, a farmer in Oregon sprayed some wheat on his field with herbicide (roundup) expecting it to die.  But it didn’t.  He was surprised and took it in to a professor at Oregon State University for inspection.  The professor inspected it and found it to be genetically modified wheat.

I interviewed this professor shortly after the news story came out.  She was very willing to talk but she was overwhelmed at the time.  She said that right after the news got out, she was overwhelmed by media requests, and even death threats.  Strange.  She thought so too but she stood by her findings saying that a GMO detection test on wheat is actually quite easy for the trained person.

You may know that many countries stopped accepting US wheat until they were certain that the wheat they were importing from the US was not GMO wheat.  One of these was Japan.

She said that their risk was too great, even though every lot of wheat that is exported out of the US is tested for GMO.  Other countries would simply not accept it until they were certain this was a fluke.

It turns out it was but it caused great concern for everyone in the world of wheat.

That’s why families are asking if organic wheat is genetically modified.  And the simple answer to that is no.

The less simple answer first comes with a question.  What is genetically modified wheat?  And is hybridization the same as genetic modification?

Genetic modification means physically tampering with the dna of the  plant to produce a desirable trait.

Hybridization means cross breeding two plants together to create one plant that carries desirable traits from the two parents.

Hybridization is not GMO.  I have concerns about the outcomes of some wheat hybridization projects but those are very much less than my concerns about genetic modification.

USDA organic regulations prohibit organic farms from planting genetically modified seeds for growing organic wheat.  This a great protection but it’s not foolproof should a GMO strain of wheat somehow make it out into the marketplace, which is unlikely but apparently it happened.

if you’re really concerned about hybridization and GMO, choose ancient wheat.

That’s all for today but I’ll talk more about hybridization vs GMO in the future.  I how this answers your questions about whether organic wheat is genetically modified.