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Vilsack: Korea finds no genetically modified wheat

The government of South Korea has said it has not found any genetically modified wheat in shipments to that country, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today as he declined to comment on a statement by Monsanto that the genetically modified wheat found growing in a field in Oregon may have been sabotage.

Vilsack told reporters after a speech at the National Press Club that the Korean government had tested wheat shipped to that country and notified USDA it had found no genetically modified contaminants. He said the Korean finding confirmed his view that genetically modified wheat has not entered “the stream of commerce.”

Vilsack noted that USDA is conducting an investigation and said his goals are to find out what happened and to keep open commercial markets.

Separately, Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s chief technology officer, told reporters in a call that the wheat found in Oregon is likely due to the “accidental or purposeful mixing of seed” that was planted in the field, according to wire service and newspaper reports.

Asked about the possibility of sabotage, Fraley said, “We’re considering all options at this point, and that’s certainly one of the possibilities we’re looking at.”

Asked by reporters at the National Press Club about the Monsanto statement, Vilsack declined comment, saying that he had not seen the reports.