Japan resumes imports of U.S. Western white wheat

by Eric Schroeder
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Wheat imports
Had temporarily suspended new Western white wheat purchases from the U.S. Pacific Northwest following announcement U.S.D.A. was investigating bioengineered wheat found in Washington state..

ARLINGTON, VA. — Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has ended its temporary suspension of U.S. Western white wheat imports. The agency on Sept. 1 announced it had purchased 58,000 tonnes, or more than 2.13 million bus, of Western white wheat for delivery in October.

MAFF had temporarily suspended new Western white wheat purchases from the U.S. Pacific Northwest following the announcement on July 29 by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) that the agency was investigating 22 bioengineered wheat plants found in a field in the state of Washington.

U.S. Wheat Associates (U.S. Wheat) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) in a statement issued Sept. 1 described the situation in Washington as “a minor disruption in trade” and commended stakeholders for approaching the situation in a reasonable way.

“APHIS promptly identified the regulated wheat event, validated a detection method developed by Monsanto and made that test available to officials in Korea and Japan,” U.S. Wheat and NAWG said. “Effective communications between government officials, including U.S.D.A.’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the grain trade companies and customers kept the process moving in a positive way.

“As a result, APHIS, MAFF and the Korean government have now tested thousands of samples of U.S. wheat and found no evidence of any G.E. material in commercial supplies, which reaffirms the conclusion that this was a limited, isolated situation.”

South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Aug. 5 said it found no unapproved bioengineered wheat from the state of Washington. The ministry said it tested imports of wheat and flour after receiving a G.M. wheat testing method from the United States on Aug. 1.

Grain import officials in Japan and South Korea have tested for the G.E. event identified in 2013 in virtually every load of U.S. wheat delivered to those countries since August 2013. The event has never been identified in more than 500 million bus of wheat exported to Japan alone. In addition, researchers at Washington State University have been conducting routine phenotype screening for glyphosate tolerance in wheat since 2013. In each of the last three growing seasons, this field screening process has involved more than 80 varieties, 2,000 advanced breeding lines and more than 35,000 individual plots.
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