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South Korea Lifts Ban on U.S. Wheat Imports

Finding no unapproved biotech content in U.S. wheat, regulators in the Asian country reopen trade.

Published on: Jul 5, 2013

Good news on a Friday as word comes that South Korea has reopened its doors to U.S. wheat. The country had slammed shut imports of U.S. wheat after that find in Oregon of non-approved biotech content in a single field of wheat.

However, officials in South Korea, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal failed to find unapproved biotech content in wheat that was imported from the United States. The story quotes the Korea Flour Mills Industrial Association on its decision to resume imports noting that local bidding of U.S. white wheat can begin Monday, July 8.

SOUTH KOREA IS BACK: Bids on U.S. white wheat could begin as early as Monday as the country aims to reopen to wheat imports.
SOUTH KOREA IS BACK: Bids on U.S. white wheat could begin as early as Monday as the country aims to reopen to wheat imports.

The trade group, however, notes that U.S. white wheat should be inspected and approved by the Korea Food & Drug Administration before reaching consumers.

The controversy over the biotech find continues here in the United States. Recently, Monsanto's Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley, during a media conference, says the find in Oregon remains suspicious. He notes the company considered several factors in its investigation of the find about how the material could have ended up in that field - nearly a decade after research on the tech had ended.

USDA has ruled that the find of Monsanto biotech content was on a single farm in a single field, which raises concerns from the company. Check out Monsanto's view on the issue.

The issue has already spawned lawsuits with a Kansas farmer claiming that the find caused financial harm to wheat growers who saw prices drop as export markets closed. Farm Futures Blogger Gary Baise offered a look at the suit.

The news from South Korea offers hope that U.S. wheat exports will continue toward normal as buyers find that the event was an isolated incident. A point of fact, however, is that the trait that was found had been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for human consumption - but there's no evidence any wheat actually got into the marketing stream.