* Japan says no change in stance on U.S. wheat
* S.Korea millers: no plan to lift suspension
* Worries linger in China as it boosts imports
* Manila to "strictly evaluate" food imports
By Meeyoung Cho and Osamu Tsukimori
SEOUL/TOKYO, June 17 Asian wheat buyers remain
concerned U.S. imports could be tainted with genetically
modified wheat even as U.S. government findings showed the
discovery of an unapproved GMO strain in Oregon appeared to be
an isolated incident.
Major importers Japan and South Korea will continue to shun
U.S. white wheat, while worries lingered in China as the country
steps up imports to build stockpiles.
Chicago wheat slid to a two-month low on Monday as the
U.S. winter wheat harvest progressed, boosting supplies when
demand remains weak on concerns over GMO wheat discovered
sprouting on a farm in the Pacific Northwest.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a statement on
Friday that it had found no genetically modified seeds in any
field it investigated beyond the original site, and "all
information collected so far shows no indication" any biotech
wheat was in the food chain.
"At this point, I think there's not going to be any change
in particular," Toru Hisazome, in charge of grain trading at
Japan's farm ministry, said on Monday in reference to Japan's
ban on imports of U.S. western white wheat.
"The (U.S.) announcement is regarded as a temporary report
rather than a final one, and I think this is not something we
can make decisions on at this point."
Asia imports more than 40 million tonnes of wheat annually,
almost a third of the global trade of 140-150 million tonnes.
The bulk of the region's supplies come from the U.S., the
world's biggest exporter, and Australia, the No. 2 supplier.
Japan was one of first nations to shun U.S. white wheat
imports after the May 29 announcement on genetically engineered
BAN TO STAY
Flour millers in South Korea also said the USDA findings
would not prompt them to lift their suspension on imports of
both U.S. western white and soft white wheat, and that they were
still waiting for the Korean government to unveil final test
"We don't plan to lift our ban based upon the U.S. report
over the weekend," said a senior official at the Korea Flour
Mills Industrial Association. "We want to wait until our food
ministry's test results are out."
China remained worried about genetically engineered wheat as
it emerges as a leading buyer of U.S. wheat, taking 1.5 million
tonnes in the last few months after the domestic harvest was hit
by untimely rains.
"We think it is normal that some mills have worries," said
one industry official. "But it will not hurt imports of U.S.
wheat as Chinese companies are interested in cheap soft red
winter wheat, which is not grown in Oregon."
Authorities in the Philippines are on guard for genetically
modified food imports, even though there is no ban on U.S.
"As of today, we have not imposed a ban on wheat imports
from the U.S.," said Clarito Barron, director of the Bureau of
Plant Industry in Manila.
"What we are doing is strictly implementing our policy of
strict evaluation and assessment of any products to be imported
in case they contain GMO."
The Philippines imports around 4 million tonnes of wheat a
year, relying mainly on U.S. supply.