South Korean millers suspend U.S. wheat imports as GM concerns fester

by
June 1, 2013

Seoul | South Korean millers suspended imports of U.S. wheat on Friday and some Asian countries stepped up inspections after the discovery of an unapproved strain of genetically modified wheat in the United States, but stopped short of imposing import bans.

U.S. officials are racing to quash global alarm in the wake of news the strain of wheat, developed by biotech giant Monsanto Co (MON.N), had been found in an Oregon field late last month. The discovery has already prompted major buyer Japan to cancel plans to buy U.S. wheat while the European Union said it would step up tests.

South Korea – which last year sourced roughly half of its total wheat imports of 5 million metric tons from the U.S. – has also raised quarantine measures on U.S. feed wheat, while Thailand put ports on alert.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said the GM wheat posed no threat to human health, and also said there was no evidence the grain had entered the commercial supply chain.

Its scientists had conducted weeks of quiet field work and complex tests before the bombshell news was announced this week.

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