Biotechnology giant Monsanto has admitted that some of its canola seed might contain GM material that is not federally approved for human consumption.

The St. Louis-based company is however asking regulators to turn a blind eye, rather than approve a wide scale recall of the potentially contaminated seed and food products that might contain it.

Trace amounts of unapproved GM material, known as GT200, were detected in Canadian seed last year, prompting concern that US seed is similarly contaminated, but Monsanto says that in any case the GM material is actually safe to consume.

According to the Wall Street Journal, regulators at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are considering formally granting Monsanto's unusual request, which was made in a letter sent to the USDA last November. Safety data from the company is being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration.