Japan remains undecided on lifting US wheat ban after GMO scare

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Japan has not lifted its ban on US Western White wheat - the decision is still "under consideration", official says
Japan has not lifted its ban on US Western White wheat - the decision is still "under consideration", official says

Related tags: Western white wheat, Genetically modified organism

There are no clear plans yet to lift Japan's ban on US western white wheat, a Japanese government official says following a meeting between its ministry and the USDA last week.

Three officials from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture met with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the US to hear more about the investigation into the discovery of non-authorized Monsanto genetically modified (GMO) wheat in Oregon in May. 

Bloomberg reported that US Agriculture Minister Tom Vilsack said Japan could re-commence purchases of western white wheat as early as August.

However,Speaking to BakeryandSnacks.com this morning, the deputy director of Grain Trade and Operations Division at Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture Toru Hisazome said that remains unclear. “It’s still under consideration, so we haven’t decided anything.”

He added: “They gave us good information…We’re considering the result of the meeting.”

GMO tests clear on imports

Japan placed a temporary ban on imports of branded US western white wheat in May and said it would not consider lifting the ban until it had clearer information on the GMO contamination.

Japan has been testing previous US western white stock and said it had conducted validation tests on the USDA’s own DNA-based GMO detection technology that had been made available to trading partners, including Japan.

Discussing the results of the tests, Hisazome said: “So far there is nothing. All of the tests conducted by Japan were negative – no GMO wheat was found.”

Substitute wheat already purchased…

Despite not yet finding any GMOs and a successful meeting with the USDA, Japan has signed contracts elsewhere for substitute wheat.

The ministry has signed contracts to purchase a total of 27,000 metric tons of substitute wheat from the US and Australia, Hisazome said.

The contracts are for two US varieties – club wheat (23,000 metric tons) and soft red winter wheat (2,000 metric tons) and an Australian premium white (2,000 metric tons).

Japan’s ban on western white US imports therefore remain for the time being.

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