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News 1840 views last update:14 Jan 2016

US wheat market feels backlash after GM discovery

Following the discovery of genetically modified (GM) wheat in an Oregon field both Japan and South Korea have suspended some imports, while the European Union (EU) and Taiwan are carefully monitoring the situation.

In April/May this year a farmer in Oregon discovered GM plants on his farm and contacted Oregon State University, who in turn notified USDA. Tests showed that the wheat was glyphosate-resistant wheat plants. It was also discovered that it was the same strain that had been legally field tested by Monsanto in 16 states from 1998 to 2005. It was never approved.

The US is the world’s largest wheat exporter, the market is worth approximately US$8 billion each year.

Japan, one of its largest export destinations, suspended imports of some types of wheat on hearing of the discovery. South Korea suspended its tenders for US wheat imports. EU called for new testing of American imports. And Taiwan said it may seek assurances that the wheat it receives is GM free.

Oregon exports 90% of its wheat and according to Oregon’s senator Ron Wyden it is worth $500m per year.

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) there is no evidence that the GM strain has entered commercial supply. But the major task now is determining how widespread the problem is.

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