Fields of wheat

It hasn’t been a good week for Monsanto. Over the Memorial Day weekend, protesters rallied in dozens of U.S. cities against the company for the genetically modified seeds it produces. Organizers claim the “March Against Monsanto” protests were held in 436 cities in 52 countries.

The ink was barely dry on newspapers reporting those protests when the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced that a genetically-modified, glyphosate-resistant wheat variety was found in volunteer wheat growing on a farm in Oregon. “Roundup Ready” crops have been genetically modified to include a gene that works to make that crop resistant to the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate, also known by its branded name, Roundup.

Those wheat sprouts were big news because the USDA never approved GM wheat, and many of America’s trading partners are opposed to GM crops. Grain traders immediately warned that the discovery could hurt export prospects for U.S. wheat.