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article imageSouth Korea bans some wheat from U.S. over safety issues

By Lucky Malicay     Jul 30, 2016 in Lifestyle
South Korea has stopped the importation of some genetically modified wheat from the United States, especially from Washington state, over safety issues.
The country halted the issuance of customs clearance for the importation after receiving information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) that an unapproved strain of genetically modified wheat was found in Washington, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The government is also temporarily stopping the distribution and sales of wheat already imported from the western U.S. state with the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety requesting that APHIS provide further information on the unapproved wheat and the method of inspection.
"We will thoroughly inspect genetically modified wheat from Washington State as soon as the U.S. provides relevant information," a ministry official was quoted by Yonhap as saying.
As of July 25, a total of 619,000 tons of wheat and 2,700 tons of flour from the U.S. reached the South Korean market this year with more than half of the wheat import came from Washington. The country has not imported flour from the state.
South Korea is the fifth largest market for U.S. wheat.
On Friday, U.S. agriculture officials said a farm in Washington has been found growing some genetically modified wheat not approved for sale or commercial production.
While this poses a serious risk to trade with other countries, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are safe.
Reuters reported that federal and state investigators are now looking into the discovery of 22 unapproved GMO wheat plants by a farmer in an unplanted field.
As a precaution, the USDA is testing grains from the farmer's other wheat fields.
Although incidences of rogue plants are rare in the U.S., a case in Oregon in 2013 prompted South Korea and Japan to stop buying U.S. wheat. Some unapproved wheat was also found in Montana the following year.
GMOs are animals or plants whose genes are reproduced from other animals or plants and inserted into their DNA.
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