Agriculture officials in Washington state are testing samples of alfalfa after a farmer reported his hay was rejected for export because it tested positive for a genetically modified trait that was not supposed to be in his crop.
If it is confirmed that the alfalfa in question was genetically modified, it could have broad ramifications, said Hector Castro, spokesman at the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
"It's a sensitive issue," Castro said.
Biotech alfalfa is approved for commercial production in the United States. But many foreign and domestic buyers require that supplies not be genetically modified, and the possible presence of GMO modified alfalfa in export supplies could result in lost sales for U.S. farmers.
Just this summer, Japan and South Korea temporarily stopped buying some U.S. wheat because an experimental biotech variety was found growing in a field of conventional wheat in Oregon.