Japan to resume buying soft white wheat
Japan, one of the PNW's longest-standing, hardest-earned customers, will resume purchasing Western White wheat (a specialty blend of club and soft white wheat) on Thursday, August 1. Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) recently announced it's tender for 90,000 metric tons of Western White Wheat for delivery by Oct. 31st. This is what wheat industry leadership and farmers throughout the PNW have been anxiously awaiting. Japan halted purchases of soft white on May 30 after unauthorized genetically modified wheat plants were found in Oregon.
"I think I can speak for all Washington wheat farmers when I say we greatly appreciate Japan's open, honest and steadfast handling of this issue," said WAWG's President, Ryan Kregger of Touchet. "We thank their officials and hope to continue providing the Japanese people with the highest quality and safest wheat in the world."
This announcement comes about three weeks after another important PNW customer, South Korea, resumed purchases of soft white. Similar to South Korea, the Japanese announcement has one caveat: Japan will resume purchases under the condition that GM inspection will be performed on all U.S. wheat imported for the time being.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) continues it's investigation into the detection of genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-resistant wheat plants in one field of one farm in Oregon. According to a July 29th press release from APHIS, all of the evidence collected thus far - specifically, the absence of MON71800 in seed and grain samples tested by USDA laboratories, and reports from nearly 270 farmers interviewed by USDA investigators that they have not observed glyphosate-resistant wheat plants in their fields - indicates that the extent of the presence of this GE wheat remains the single detection of the GE wheat plants in one field of one farm in Oregon.
From 1994 through 2005, APHIS issued 158 authorizations for field testing MON71800 in 16 States under its notification system. To date, USDA-APHIS has no evidence that MON71800 GE wheat is in commerce, or in any of the other 15 States where MON71800 field tests were conducted.
"There's still no indication as to when the APHIS investigation will conclude, but at the same time we appreciate USDA's efforts as well as all of our industry partners who have worked closely with our customers to ensure that exports continue to flow," said Kregger.