WASHINGTON, July 31, 2013 – Japan announced yesterday it will again begin buying western soft white wheat, two months after the country stopped importation of the product due to the discovery of genetically modified wheat on an Oregon farm.
Wheat industry executives greeted the announcement warmly.
“It's great news to have our largest, longest and most reliable customer back buying wheat," said Blake Rowe, Oregon Wheat Commission’s Executive.
U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) said via a joint press release that they were “pleased” with the news.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., praised the timing of Japan’s decision, pointing out that wheat growers are just now preparing to harvest.
Wyden also commended USDA for its ongoing investigation into the matter, which has been conducted with “unprecedented transparency and openness,” he said.
Though it’s still unclear how the genetically modified wheat made it to the Oregon field, USDA officials say the strain has not been found elsewhere. The variety is unapproved in the U.S., though Monsanto had conducted field tests of the same Roundup-resistant wheat in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The Oregonian reports that Japan will still test incoming wheat for genetically modified materials, and will ramp up its testing procedures to include checking for 120 chemicals. The country has placed an order for 90,000 metric tons of western soft white wheat, and will begin accepting U.S. western wheat on August 1, shortly followed by soft white on August 7.
South Korea and Taiwan decided to end their moratoriums on American wheat at the beginning of this month.
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