Japan Won’t Release US Wheat Imports Over GMO Fears

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Japanese authorities have decided not to release the previously contracted Western White wheat to the processors, told a government official on Monday. The precautionary decision results from the recent discovery of an unapproved genetically modified strain of wheat at an Oregon farm, says a report by Sameer C. Mohindru of MarketWatch.

Japan Won't Release US Wheat Imports Over GMO Fears

Japan Stopped The Imports Of Wheat From The U.S.

Just a few days back, Japan stopped the fresh imports of Western White wheat from the U.S. However, some of the imports that have been discharged earlier are yet to be delivered.

In terms of volume, Japan is the second largest buyer of U.S. wheat after Mexico. Annually, Japan imports 5.8 million metric tons of wheat of which 60 percent is from US and the rest is from Canada and Australia. Japan has been importing both spring and winter wheat from the U.S.

Actions by Japan

One of the officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries told that they have no methods to inspect the genetically modified strained wheat. Therefore, as a precaution it has been decided to store the shipments of Western White in the government custody.

The official further told that the authorities have asked their US counterparts to develop a quick test to recognize genetically modified strains among the lots.

Western White wheat that is already in possession of processors, something around 200,000 tons has been allowed by the ministry for the use, told the official.

U.S. White Wheat

Of the total wheat produced in Oregon about 90 percent is classified as “soft white” wheat, Western White.

White wheat is also produced at other US states and is quite popular in many Asian countries like Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture projection, for the marketing year ended in May 31, white wheat accounted for 17 percent of the total wheat exports.

Actions by other countries

Officials in South Korea have also taken the DNA sequence of the genetically modified strain from the U.S that will be compared against the samples from the imported wheat. The results of the test are expected to come by Wednesday.

A Seoul-based flour miller who is familiar with the developments told that the earlier wheat samples that were tested over the weekend were not infected. However, “we will wait for the government inspection to be completed,” he added.

In recent months, China has also imported about 1.5 million tons of U.S. wheat, but the officials there are still to announce any discovery or any course of action concerning the genetically modified wheat at the Oregon farm.

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