U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) 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.
USW and NAWG 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.
On behalf of those wheat farmers, USW and NAWG express our appreciation to APHIS for its help. To all our customers, we thank them for their response to this situation and their continued confidence in the quality, safety and value of U.S. wheat.
USW is the industry’s market development organization working in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to “develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat producers and their customers.” USW activities are made possible through producer checkoff dollars managed by 19 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).