TOKYO, June 5 Japan's farm minister has tried to
calm concerns about possible shortfalls in the country's main
source of flour for cake and other sweets after genetically
modified wheat was discovered in the United States, saying the
country has two months' inventory of the grade.
In the comments made on Tuesday, minister Yoshimawa Hayashi
added that Japan could consider importing alternative types of
wheat if U.S. investigations into the discovery of unapproved GM
wheat growing wild in a field in Oregon dragged on.
Japan shunned U.S. shipments of the Western White grade of
wheat at a tender last week and is not expected to restart
imports until the conclusion of the U.S. investigation into the
rogue strain of wheat, modified by Monsanto Co for
herbicide tolerance but never put into commercial production.
"We're looking to the development of an investigation by
U.S. authorities," Hayashi said. "But if the period of the halt
is prolonged, we may have to consider the possibility of an
earlier supply than usual of this year's locally grown wheat and
the possibility of importing alternative types from abroad."
Millers have said, however, that it could be difficult to
find an alternative foreign wheat to replace Western White as it
is the sole low-protein type suitable for cake flour that the
ministry currently buys. The world's sixth-biggest wheat buyer
imports around 800,000 tonnes of the grade each year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the find last
week after tests to identify the wheat strain and says there is
no evidence that any GM crops have entered the supply chain.
South Korea said on Wednesday it has not detected any
genetically modified wheat in tests so far on imports of the
grain and flour from the state of Oregon, but that tests are