Japan resumes wheat imports, to glee of US

The West Australian
The West logo

Japan has agreed to resume importing U.S. soft white wheat two months after a genetically modified rogue strain of the crop appeared in a farmer's field.

The Oregon Wheat Commission has maintained since the rogue strain was discovered that it was limited to one field. U.S. investigators said they've found no other cases.

According to translated remarks the commission provided from Japan's minister of agriculture, Japan will begin to accept U.S. Western wheat again on Thursday and soft white on Aug. 7.

Japan will test U.S. imports for genetically modified wheat for an undisclosed period of time.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Japan's resumption of wheat imports.

Agriculture Department officials have said the modified wheat discovered in the Oregon field is the same strain as a genetically modified wheat that was designed to be herbicide-resistant and was legally tested by seed giant Monsanto a decade ago but never approved.

Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are already modified, or genetically altered to include certain traits, often resistance to herbicides or pesticides. But the country's wheat crop is not, as many wheat farmers have shown reluctance to use genetically engineered seeds since their product is usually consumed directly. Much of the corn and soybean crop is used as feed.

The USDA has said the wheat would be safe to eat if consumed. But U.S. consumers, like many consumers in Europe and Asia, have shown an increasing interest in avoiding genetically modified foods.

There has been little evidence to show that foods grown from engineered seeds are less safe than their conventional counterparts, but several state legislatures are considering bills that would require them to be labeled so consumers know what they are eating.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails