June 12, 2013

 

Japan halts feed wheat imports from US

 

 

Due to concerns over the recent discovery of an unapproved genetically modified strain at an Oregon farm, Japan has restricted imports of feed wheat from the US.

 

Japan suspended shipments from the Pacific Northwest, allowing only soft red winter (SRW) grade to be offered in the next tender.

 

"We have imposed two conditions for US wheat to be offered in the next [feed wheat] tender. The grade should be soft red winter, and shipments must be made from the Gulf coast," an official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.

 

The US is currently investigating the discovery of the unapproved genetically modified (GM) wheat in Oregon. The state is a major producer of soft white grade wheat, which is shipped from the Pacific Northwest. The SRW grade of wheat is produced in the south-east and exported from the Gulf of Mexico.

 

The suspension will continue until the US completes its investigation of the genetically modified strain, the official said. Earlier, soft white wheat was permitted in Japan's feed wheat import tenders.

 

Japan is seeking 120,000 tonnes of feed wheat and 200,000 tonnes of feed barley in a simultaneous-buy-and-sell (SBS) tender for bulk shipment by August 31, the official said.

 

The tender closes Friday. This will be the first SBS tender to be held for feed grain after the controversy over the genetically modified strain erupted in the US around two weeks ago.

 

Japan buys feed wheat only in small volumes. It has bought 443,790 tonnes of feed wheat and 631,480 tonnes of feed barley in 20 of the past 31 SBS tenders. The others were cancelled over a lack of buyers and sellers.

 

In SBS tenders, the government regulates imports of feed wheat and barley and is the intermediary, while trades are possible only if there are both buyers and sellers. End users can negotiate collectively on the price, quantity and origin before submitting bids to trading companies via the agriculture ministry.

 

Japan buys wheat and barley mostly from Canada, Australia, the US and France.