* S.Korea has found no GM wheat so far, but tests not final
* Final results had been expected on Weds, timing now
* Seoul to get customised GM wheat test from U.S. by end of
By Meeyoung Cho
SEOUL, June 5 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
plans wider tests to cover all U.S. shipments.
The country, which imports around 2.5 million tonnes of U.S.
wheat a year, had been expected to announce final test results
today. The delay could drag out a suspension of imports by
Korean millers, stoking further market uncertainty after a rogue
strain of the crop was discovered in Oregon.
South Korea's food ministry said it would continue its tests
later this week after receiving a new GM wheat test system and
samples from the United States. Officials declined to say how
long this could take.
"This is not at an end to testing. We will continue with
tests to be thorough in preventing unapproved wheat from
entering the Korean market," Park Hye-kyung, director general of
Food Nutrition and Dietary Safety Bureau at the food ministry
said in a briefing.
Korean millers last week suspended wheat imports from the
U.S. pending tests, after news that unapproved GM wheat had been
found growing in Oregon spooked buyers globally.
An official from the Korean Flour Mills Industry Association
said on Wednesday that members would discuss the latest results,
which come in the wake of government comment on Monday that
initial tests on Oregon wheat were negative.
The discovery of the long-forgotten strain of wheat,
developed by biotech giant Monsanto more than a decade
ago but never put into commercial production, has prompted Japan
to shun wheat from the Pacific Northwest.
Some other Asian countries have ramped up inspections and
the European Union said it would step up testing.
China's state stockpiler Sinograin has not commented on the
GMO scare, but some flour mills have said they were
investigating. The country had bought about 1.5 million tonnes
of U.S. wheat over the past two months, industry sources said.
But some market participants said they would focus on the
negative test result rather than the delay in final testing.
"Despite being only initial findings, the results are
encouraging," said Andrew Woodhouse, grains analyst at Advance
"South Korea sources up to half of their wheat imports from
the U.S. so the fact they haven't found anything means they can
be more confident ahead of the final results."
U.S. wheat futures fell immediately after news of the GM
discovery broke last week, though have since recovered.
Chicago Board of Trade July wheat was trading up 0.32
percent at around $7.11 a bushel, after closing up slightly on
Although the United States has embraced genetically modified
crops such as soybeans and cotton, genetically modified wheat
has never been approved there, or anywhere else in the world.
South Korea - which last year sourced roughly half of its
total wheat imports of 5 million tonnes from the United States -
has also raised quarantine measures on U.S. feed wheat.
The U.S. has expanded its search team in Oregon as it hunts
for the source of the unapproved wheat found growing wild on a
farm there in April.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the find last
Wednesday after sophisticated tests to identify the wheat strain
and says there is no evidence that any GM crops have entered the