CANADA – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has discovered genetically modified (GM) wheat in southern Alberta, Canada even when GM wheat is not authorized in the country.

World Grain reported that the testing carried out by CFIA found out that the Alberta wheat sample was a match for a Monsanto GM wheat line that was used in multiple confined research field trials in the late 1990s and early 2000s in both Canada and the United States.

“The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has recently completed testing of a few wheat plants found on an access road in Alberta that survived a spraying treatment for weeds,” the CFIA said.

“When the CFIA was notified of this finding, CFIA scientists conducted tests to determine why the wheat survived.

The CFIA’s tests confirmed that the wheat found was genetically modified and herbicide-tolerant.

Since GM wheat is not authorized in Canada, the CFIA worked collaboratively with partners at all levels to gather as much complete, accurate and credible information about this discovery as possible.”

After being notified of the GM wheat by the government of Alberta on Jan 31, CFIA’s Ottawa Genotyping/Botany Laboratory received samples of wheat seeds from Alberta and began conducting DNA-based analyses.

CFIA had narrowed the wheat line down to two possible companies before ultimately determining that the Alberta wheat sample was a match for a Monsanto GM wheat line.

According to the agency, locations of the confined research field trials were approximately 300 kilometres or more away from where the GM wheat plants were found in Alberta.

It however noted that no evidence was present to suggest that the GM wheat was present anywhere other than the isolated site where it was discovered.

Despite of the findings, Health Canada, the department of the government of Canada with responsibility for national public health stated that the finding did not pose a food safety risk.

CFIA said in the research, it checked the DNA from the Alberta GM wheat against Canada’s grain exports, determining that over the last three crop years, nearly 170,000 individual kernels of grain from more than 1,500 export shipments were analysed, and no matches for the GM wheat were found.

Though genetically modified wheat is not approved for commercial use in Canada, it has been approved in canola, corn and soybeans.

In June, Japan farm ministry said it had suspended its tender and sale of wheat from Canada after grain containing a genetically modified trait was discovered.