Japan suspends white winter wheat purchases from Northwest

May 30, 2013

Japan has temporarily suspended white winter wheat purchases from the Pacific Northwest.

The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture announced the decision after U.S. regulators found genetically modified wheat on an Oregon farm.

The found strain of wheat had been developed by Monsanto but never approved for commercial planting. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating.

Katie Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, says it is not clear how long the Japanese ban on Northwest wheat will last.

“We understand USDA would be in negotiations with the Japanese government to determine protocols that would allow Pacific Northwest soft white wheat to re-enter the Japanese market," Coba said.

According to a Reuters report, the European Union on Thursday announced it will test shipments of white wheat from the U.S. for genetically modified strains.

Farmers in the Northwest have planted about 4.6 million acres of wheat, and in typical years about 75 percent of that crop is exported.

Monsanto, in a statement, said this was first report of genetically modified wheat since its test planting program was discontinued nine years ago.

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