National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) are pleased that Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) resumed tenders this week for new purchases of U.S. Western White (WW) wheat, a blend of soft white and club wheat. On Sept. 1, 2016, MAFF announced it had purchased 58,000 metric tons, or more than 2.13 million bushels, of WW for delivery in October.
MAFF had temporarily suspended new WW purchases following the announcement on July 29, 2016, by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) that a small number of wheat plants containing an unapproved, genetically engineered (GE) event to resist the herbicide glyphosate were found in a fallow field in eastern Washington State.
NAWG and USW believe that this unexpected situation caused only a minor disruption in trade because every stakeholder approached it in a reasonable way. APHIS promptly identified the regulated wheat event, validated a detection method developed by Monsanto and made that test available to officials in Korea and Japan. Effective communications between government officials, including USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the grain trade companies and customers kept the process moving in a positive way.
As a result, APHIS, MAFF and the Korean government have now tested thousands of samples of U.S. wheat and found no evidence of any GE material in commercial supplies, which reaffirms the conclusion that this was a limited, isolated situation.
The productive relationships wheat farmers and their representatives at USW, NAWG and state wheat organizations have built with customers at home and around the world also played an important part in resolving this incident.