It’s called Clearfield.
“Hybridization” is a loosely used term. Hybridization techniques fall within the range of “traditional breeding methods.” In common usage, of course, hybridization simply means mating two plants or animals to generate a unique offspring. Mate a red apple with a yellow apple, and you get a happy red-yellow hybrid. Mate an apple with a grape, you get a grapple, a sweeter grape-like apple. There is a presumption of safety with hybridization: The FDA doesn’t come knocking at your door asking for your animal or human test data. Hybridize to your heart’s content and you can just sell your unique vegetable or fruit.
But what if your “hybridzation” technique involves more than just introducing momma apple to daddy grape, but employs chemical poisons and radiation?
Clearfield brand wheat seed is sold to farmers in the northwestern U.S. Farmers in Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Washington and other states are now planting 100,000s of acres of Clearfield wheat. Clearfield wheat is herbicide-resistant, resistant in this case to the herbicide imazamox, also known as Beyond. Imazamox resistance is conferred by an alteration in the acetohydroxyacid synthetase gene. The promotional literature to farmers proudly proclaims that imazamox resistance in Clearfield wheat is not the product of genetic modification: Clearfield wheat is non-GMO, unlike Roundup-resistant corn and soy.
So how did chemical company BASF (with work performed at Oregon State University), who holds the patent on Clearfield and sells the seed, create this genetic variant? By a process called chemical mutagenesis. They exposed wheat seeds to the chemical, sodium azide, NaN3. Sodium azide is highly toxic to animals, bacteria, and humans, with human ingestion of small quantities yielding effects similar to cyanide. With accidental ingestion, for instance, the CDC recommends not performing CPR on the victim (and just letting the victim die), since it may cause the CPR-provider to be exposed, nor to dispose of any vomitus into a sink, since it can cause an explosion. (This has actually happened.)
In addition to chemical mutagenesis, gamma and x-ray radiation are also used on seeds and plant embryos to induce mutations. This all falls under the umbrella of “traditional breeding methods” and “hybridization.”
So plants subjected to all manner of chemical- and radiation-based hybridization techniques are unleashed on the unwitting public, all presumed to be safe for human consumption, no questions asked about safety testing in animals or humans. (There are some efforts made to analyze carbohydrate content, fiber content, and other crude measures of induced compositional change.)
Oh, you’ll be happy to know that they also did test for its ability to yield cohesive cookies and light sponge cake.