WASHINGTON, Sept. 1, 2016 – Japan has resumed purchases of U.S. wheat, lifting restrictions imposed in late July after a farmer found unapproved genetically modified plants growing in a field in Washington state.

Japan resumed the tender process for U.S. white wheat this week, purchasing 58,000 metric tons – about 2.13 million bushels – for delivery in October, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) said today in a release.

Japan and South Korea both put restrictions on U.S. wheat after the GMO wheat was discovered. South Korea was much quicker to lift its suspension; by Aug. 8, it had removed its hold on stores of U.S. wheat after the grain was tested for the presence of GMOs. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has not approved any genetically engineered wheat varieties for sale or in commercial production in the U.S.

USW and NAWG said they were pleased that Japan had resumed purchases.

USW and NAWG believe that this unexpected situation caused only a minor disruption in trade because every stakeholder approached it in a reasonable way,” the two groups said. “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. Effective communications between government officials, including USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the grain trade companies and customers kept the process moving in a positive way.”

Japan took longer to lift its restriction, which applied only to imports of white wheat, because the country wanted to customize the testing protocols that were sent there by Monsanto and USDA, a USW spokesman said.

Japanese importers rely on the U.S. for a unique blend called Western White – a mixture of soft white and club wheat – that is grown in the Pacific Northwest.

The latest discovery of unapproved wheat was the third in the three years. The first time it happened was in 2013 in Oregon. More unapproved wheat was found in Montana in 2014.


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