Japan says resuming U.S. white wheat purchase

A combine drives over stalks of soft red winter wheat during the harvest on a farm in Dixon, Illinois, July 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture has resumed buying U.S. white wheat after a trade halt following the discovery of unapproved genetically modified (GMO) wheat in July, it said on Thursday.

GMO wheat developed by Monsanto Co, not approved by federal regulators, was found growing in a Washington state field, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in late July.

That prompted Japan to take steps to block certain imports of U.S. wheat, suspending purchases of Western White wheat from Washington state for food use, and purchases of Western White wheat from the U.S. West Coast for feed use.

But Japan resumed purchase procedures on Thursday, by conducting its first tender since late July, a ministry spokesman said.

Japan, which had also suspended distribution of previously purchased U.S. wheat since July 29, has also resumed distribution late last month after a testing method has been established.

“We will continue buying U.S. wheat as long as it is proven negative in tests,” the ministry spokesman said.

Reporting by Ami Miyazaki, writing by Yuka Obayashi, editing by William Hardy