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article imageJapan blocks US wheat after Monsanto GMO strain found in Oregon

By Brett Wilkins     May 31, 2013 in World
Tokyo - Japan blocked the import of some types of American wheat on Thursday following the discovery of an unauthorized strain of genetically modified Monsanto wheat growing on an Oregon farm.
Agence France-Presse reports that Japan's farm ministry cancelled a bid for 25,000 tons of Western White wheat, a soft white wheat grown in the northwestern US.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the discovery of the unapproved genetically modified Monsanto wheat on Wednesday. The pesticide-resistant strain, which was tested in a dozen states from 1994 to 2005, was found in an 80-acre field in Oregon. The strain has never been approved for commercial use.
"We have no choice but to avoid bidding for the product," an official from the Japanese farm ministry declared on Thursday.
"We are asking US authorities to disclose information related to the incident as quickly as possible," the official added.
Other types of American wheat have not been subjected to the ban.
The Associated Press reports that the European Union (EU) is urging member states to test some wheat shipments from the United States in the wake of the alarming discovery.
"[The EU] is following carefully the presence of this non-authorized GM wheat in Oregon in order to ensure that European consumers are protected from any unauthorized GM presence and make sure the EU zero tolerance for such GM events is implemented," the EU consumer protection office said in a statement.
The EU imports more than a million tons of American wheat annually. European consumers are much more GMO-averse than their US counterparts, and unlike the US, where efforts to label genetically modified foods have almost always failed, in large part due to the massive political influence and spending power of the corporate agriculture lobby, GM labeling is the law of the land throughout Europe.
The majority of soft white wheat exported from the United States to the EU goes to Spain.
While the corporations which produce GM wheat claim their product is safe, an assessment shared by the US government, critics point to scientific studies showing that GM wheat under trial in Australia could possibly trigger a deadly liver disease.
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