Monsanto, the agricultural biotechnology company, genetically modified a variety of hard red spring wheat to resist the company's Roundup herbicide.
The environment and economy of the Northern Great Plains are threatened by the potential introduction of this genetically modified (GM) wheat. Questions about market acceptance, farmer liability, segregation, and risks to the environment and human health remain unanswered.
We are working to prevent the commercial introduction of GM wheat until these questions are answered.
In May 2004, Monsanto announced that it was shelving research and development of GM wheat. The announcement followed five years of opposition by wheat farmers, consumers, and food safety activists to the commercial introduction of Roundup Ready wheat.
Market resistance to GM wheat
A 2003 report by Dr. Robert Wisner - a leading grain market economist at Iowa State University - shows the commercial introduction of GM wheat in the next several years could cause major risk to the U.S. wheat industry.
After examining data on existing markets, consumer trends, and grain handling and transportation systems, Dr. Wisner concluded that the commercial introduction of GM wheat could result in the loss of 30% to 50% of U.S. spring wheat export markets, and a reduction of up to one-third in U.S. prices for hard red spring and durum wheat.
On August 23, 2006, WORC released a second update to the market risks report. The update found that consumer attitudes towards GM crops are unchanged. The update also responds to claims made by some U.S. wheat growers that GM wheat would reverse declining wheat acres.
- Read WORC's news release for Dr. Wisner's response.
WORC issued a third update of the report by Dr. Neal Blue, a grain market consultant and former research economist at Ohio State University, on January 27, 2010. A Review of the Potential Market Impacts of Commercializing GM Wheat in the U.S. concludes that wheat buyers in Europe, Japan, and other Asian countries are likely to switch to GM-free wheat from other countries if GM wheat is introduced in this country. As a result, the price of U.S. hard red spring wheat would fall 40%, and the price of durum wheat would drop 57%.
Farmer and consumer groups from Australia, Canada, and the United States released a statement rejecting commercialization of GM wheat and telling Monsanto that genetically modifying wheat is unacceptable.
Breadbasket of Democracy - Orion Online features an essay on genetic engineering and Dakota Resource Council by former DRC staff director Ted Nace (Orion Magazine, May-June, 2006)
Monsanto has put Roundup Ready wheat on the shelf. Some wheat industry leaders want to pull it off. But Harvest at Risk – Impacts of Roundup Ready Wheat in the Northern Great Plains finds the cost to wheat farmers would be more than the benefits. Wheat industry stakeholders should take a fresh, in-depth, and independent evaluation of Roundup Ready wheat before removing it from the shelf.
Prospects for introducing GM wheat in the U.S. haven't improved since Monsanto shelved its research and development plans in 2004, according to Dr. Robert Wisner, a leading grain market economist. Introduction of GM wheat in the U.S. still risks the loss of one-third to one-half of U.S. hard red spring and durum wheat export markets and up to a one-third drop in price, according to an update of an October 2003 report, Market Risks of Genetically Modified Wheat.
Farmers’ Guide to GMOs - Learn about the risks and legal liabilities of genetically modified crops.
U.S. Public Interest Research Group 2005 "Raising Risk" report on the level of field testing of genetically engineered crops.
Monsanto vs. US Farmers, a report documenting Monsanto's lawsuits against American farmers.
The Problem With GM Wheat
WORC goes to Farm Aid
Monsanto Drops Genetically Modified Wheat!
Monsanto pulls applications for genetically modified wheat, WORC news release.
On May 10, 2004, Monsanto announced that it has deferred "all further efforts" to introduce Roundup Ready wheat.
- Monsanto's announcement
- Monsanto announcement is a victory for farmers, WORC news release
- Northern Plains' news release
- Dakota Resource Council's news release
- Center for Food Safety's news release
One Million Japanese say "NO" to genetically modified wheat in petition to North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner.
Iowa Economist, Dr. Robert Wisner warns that the price of spring wheat could drop by about one-third if a genetically modified variety is introduced commercially into Montana or North Dakota in the next two to six years.
Canadian Wheat Board study says GM wheat will be an environmental disaster.
The 2003 Montana Legislature overwhelmingly adopted a resolution finding that "the introduction of genetically engineered wheat and barley for commercial production must be carefully timed so that it occurs only when there is acceptance of these crops by Montana's major customers."
- Text of the resolution, SJ 8 by State Senator Jon Tester.
Farmers ask USDA to evaluate the impacts of GM wheat. Groups representing wheat farmers from across the country are asking the federal Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to take a hard economic look at GM wheat before the agency clears the way for its commercial introduction.