Japan Cancels GMO Wheat Order After Concerns Over U.S. Grain Developed By Monsanto

By Naveen Thukral and Risa Maed

SINGAPORE/TOKYO, May 30 (Reuters) – A strain of genetically modified wheat found in the United States fuelled concerns over food supplies across Asia on Thursday, with major importer Japan cancelling a tender offer to buy U.S. grain.

Other top Asian wheat importers South Korea, China and the Philippines said they were closely monitoring the situation after the U.S. government found genetically engineered wheat sprouting on a farm in the state of Oregon.

The strain was never approved for sale or consumption.

Asian consumers are keenly sensitive to gene-altered food, with few countries allowing imports of such cereals for human consumption. However, most of the corn and soybean shipped from the U.S. and South America for animal feed is genetically modified.
“We will refrain from buying western white and feed wheat effective today,” Toru Hisadome, a Japanese farm ministry official in charge of wheat trading, told Reuters.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday said the wheat variety was developed years ago by biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. It was never put into use because of worldwide opposition to genetically engineered wheat.

Wheat, long known as the staff of life, is the world’s largest traded food commodity and it is used in making breads, pastries, cookies, breakfast cereal and noodles.

Asia imports more than 40 million tonnes of wheat annually, almost a third of the global trade of 140-150 million tonnes. The bulk of the region’s supplies come from the United States, the world’s biggest exporter, and Australia, the No. 2 supplier.

The USDA said there was no sign that genetically engineered wheat had entered the commercial market, but grain traders warned the discovery could hurt export prospects for U.S. wheat.

“Asian consumers are jittery about genetically modified food,” said Abah Ofon, an analyst at Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore. “This is adding to concerns that already exist on quality and availability of food wheat globally.”

In 2006, a large part of the U.S. long-grain rice crop was contaminated by an experimental strain from Bayer CropScience, prompting import bans in Europe and Japan and sharply lowering market prices. The company agreed in court in 2011 to pay $750 million to growers as compensation.

BUYERS CAUTIOUS, SEEK DETAILS

A major flour miller in China, which has been stocking U.S. wheat in recent months, said importers will tread carefully.

China has emerged as a key buyer of U.S. wheat this year, taking around 1.5 million tonnes in the past two months. Chinese purchases in the year to June 2014 are estimated to rise 21 percent to 3.5 million tonnes, according to the USDA, with most shipments coming from the United States, Australia and Canada.

Japan’s Hisadome said the government has asked U.S. authorities to provide more details of their investigation and Japan will stop buying the wheat concerned, at least until a test kit is developed to identify genetically modified produce.

There is no U.S.-approved test kit to identify genetically engineered wheat. The USDA has said it is working on a “rapid test” kit.

The Philippines, which buys about 4 million tonnes of wheat a year and relies mainly on U.S. supplies, is waiting for more details from the USDA before acting, an industry official in Manila said.

An agriculture ministry source in South Korea said the government is reviewing the discovery, adding the country thoroughly inspects products from the United States as part of safety checks.

“I won’t be surprised if other countries start cancelling or reducing their purchases of U.S. wheat, particularly Asian countries, putting pressure on wheat demand,” said Joyce Liu, an investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

The benchmark Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures eased half a percent on Thursday after rallying in the previous session.

Genetically modified crops cannot be grown legally in the United States unless the government approves them after a review to ensure they pose no threat to the environment or to people.

Monsanto entered four strains of glyphosate-resistant wheat for U.S. approval in the 1990s but there was no final decision by regulators because the company decided there was no market.

The St. Louis-based firm downplayed the incident in a statement posted on its website. “While USDA’s results are unexpected, there is considerable reason to believe that the presence of the Roundup Ready trait in wheat, if determined to be valid, is very limited,” it said.

Still, importers are not in a position to shun wheat from the United States, which accounts for about a fifth of the global supplies, analysts and industry officials said. (Additional reporting by Karl Plume in CHICAGO, Niu Shuping in Beijing, Erik dela Cruz in MANILA, Jane Chung in SEOUL and Yayat Supriatna in JAKARTA; Editing by Amran Abocar and Richard Pullin)

Also on HuffPost and True Health Is True Wealth

**Another warning for Americans.  Other countries do not buy our meat and other products because they are genetically modified, shot full of steroids… Frankenfood, yet most Americans don’t even realize that this is what they are eating, the possible side effects and that they are being fed my Monsanto, not America’s family farms.

Related:

Obama appoints Monsanto’s vice president Michael Taylor as senior adviser to the commissioner at the FDA…

Would you vote for a food bill Monsanto supports?

Frankenfood, Coming Soon to a Store Near You?

About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place". At age 62 I find myself fighting inoperable uterine Cancer and thanks to the man upstairs and the prayers from so many people including many of my readers from AskMarion and JustOneMorePet... I'm beating it. After losing our business because of the economy and factors related to the re-election of President Obama in 2012 followed by 16-mos of job hunting, my architect-trained husband is working as a trucker and has only been home approximately 5-days a month since I was diagnosed, which has made everything more difficult and often lonely... plus funds are tight. Our family medical deductible is 12K per year for two of us; thank you ObamaCare. But thanks to donations from so many of you, we are making ends meet as I go through treatment while taking care of my father-in-law who is suffering from late stage Alzheimer's and my mother-in-law who suffers from RA and onset dementia as well as hearing loss, for which there are no caretaker funds, as I continue the fight here online to inform and help restore our amazing country. And finally I need to thank a core group of family, friends, and readers... all at a distance, who check in with me regularly. Plus, I must thank my furkids who have not left my side through this fight. You can see them at JustOneMorePet.
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1 Response to Japan Cancels GMO Wheat Order After Concerns Over U.S. Grain Developed By Monsanto

  1. Pingback: 11 Food Ingredients Banned Outside the U.S. That Americans Eat | askmarion

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