UPDATE 12/11/15: The USDA officially announced that it will require permits for all future GE wheat field trials.
Thanks to the organizations and businesses that signed our comments calling for these permits and strong containment conditions.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing a policy change that should provide more oversight of genetically engineered (GE) wheat planted in experimental field trials, though major improvements to regulations and oversight are still desperately needed.
The amount of acreage growing experimental varieties of GE crops is a long-standing concern of the organic community. Thousands of acres of experimental crops are planted each year.
We know seed and pollen cannot be fully contained in an open-air environment, and that GE traits are found in organic and other non-GE seed, crops, and food, creating a burden and financial risk to those who find their products contaminated. The USDA released data this month on some of these costs, finding what we already knew: that contamination is costing organic farmers millions of dollars. Contamination events sometimes involve experimental crops, as we saw with GE rice in 2006 and with GE wheat in 2013 and 2014, to name just two examples.