10:35 | 21/06/2018 Global Economy
South Korea announced on June 18 that it has suspended imports of wheat and flour from Canada after Canadian officials revealed last week the discovery of genetically modified wheat in southern Alberta.
This follows Japan’s announcement on June 15 that it has suspended its tenders and sales of wheat from Canada.
No GM wheat has been approved for commercialization anywhere in the world.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on June 14 released a statement indicating it has discovered genetically modified wheat in southern Alberta.
“The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has recently completed testing of a few wheat plants found on an access road in Alberta that survived a spraying treatment for weeds,” the CFIA said. “When the CFIA was notified of this finding, CFIA scientists conducted tests to determine why the wheat survived. The CFIA’s tests confirmed that the wheat found was genetically modified and herbicide-tolerant. Since GM wheat is not authorized in Canada, the CFIA worked collaboratively with partners at all levels to gather as much complete, accurate and credible information about this discovery as possible.”
The CFIA said it was notified of the GM wheat by the government of Alberta on Jan. 31. By Feb. 12, the CFIA’s Ottawa Genotyping/Botany Laboratory had received samples of wheat seeds from Alberta and began conducting DNA-based analyses. Following the analysis, the CFIA narrowed the wheat line down to two possible companies before ultimately determining on April 8 that the Alberta wheat sample was a match for a Monsanto GM wheat line that was used in multiple confined research field trials in the late 1990s and early 2000s in both Canada and the United States. The locations of the confined research field trials were approximately 300 kilometers or more away from where the GM wheat plants were found in Alberta, the CFIA said.
The CFIA noted that no evidence was present to suggest that the GM wheat was present anywhere other than the isolated site where it was discovered. In addition, Health Canada has concluded that the finding does not pose a food safety risk.
Canada is one of the world’s largest wheat exporters and is South Korea’s No. 3 wheat supplier after the U.S. and Australia.
Japan imported 1.4 million tonnes of wheat from Canada last year and 1.6 million tonnes the year before.
In 2016, Japan and South Korea temporarily suspended U.S. wheat imports after a similar GM wheat finding.