Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Japan Halts Wheat Imports after Genetically Modified Wheat Found in Alberta

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Japan Halts Wheat Imports after Genetically Modified Wheat Found in Alberta

Article excerpt

Japan suspends Canadian wheat imports

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CALGARY - The Canadian government is trying to reassure Japan and other trading partners that genetically modified wheat found in southern Alberta is limited to a few plants growing along a remote access road and has not been detected in the wider supply.

Japan has temporarily halted imports of Canadian wheat as it reviews the tests that Canadian officials have already done, Global Affairs spokesman Jesse Wilson said in a statement.

"The government of Canada is working with its key trading partners to ensure they have all the necessary information and are relying on science-based evidence to limit market disruption," he wrote Friday.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Thursday that it tested wheat plants that survived spraying for weeds and found they were genetically modified to tolerate herbicide.

The agency said extensive scientific testing has found the wheat is isolated to the site where it was found and poses no food safety risk.

Such modified wheat is not approved for commercial use in Canada.

"Temporary market closure is a standard protocol for the Japanese," Wilson said.

"CFIA officials are already in close contact to share data, review evidence and demonstrate full transparency, which is exactly as it should be when it comes to keeping trade open."

The Japanese embassy in Ottawa said Friday the country's ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries temporarily suspended the import tender and sale of Canadian wheat to domestic milling companies in response to the CFIA's announcement.

"The embassy understands that the details with regard to this issue are being worked out between the competent authorities of the two countries," it said.

The Alberta government said the dozen genetically modified red spring wheat plants were found last fall in a roadside ditch near Strathmore, east of Calgary.

"We're disappointed with Japan's decision to suspend the trade of Canadian wheat, and we are working to provide them with the assurances they need to reopen markets," Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous said Friday. …

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