Milling & Baking News -- July 3, 2018 - 34
Export and Trade Issues
South Korea re-opens Canadian
wheat pipeline after G.M.O. scare
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - South Korea's food ministry last week allowed
sales of Canadian wheat and flour
to resume, saying tests of imports
during a week-long suspension had
turned up no unapproved genetically
modified strains. Meanwhile, tender
and sale of Canadian wheat remained
under suspension by Japan.
South Korea halted sales the previous week, nearly four months after
the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
(C.F.I.A.) confirmed wheat plants that
survived a sprayed glyphosate weed
treatment were genetically modified.
Samples from the wheat plants, found
growing along a southern Alberta access road in the summer of 2017, were
tested, narrowed to a list of wheat
lines grown in research trials and
compared with samples submitted by
Testing in March by the C.F.I.A. and
the Canadian Grain Commission revealed the G.M.O. wheat didn't match
any of the 450 wheat varieties sold in
Canada. Testing in April revealed the
Alberta wheat sample matched a Monsanto G.M.O. wheat line (MON71200)
used in multiple confined research
field trials in the late 1990s and early
2000s in Canada and the United States,
in both cases more than 300 miles from
the 2017 Alberta discovery. Concurrent testing of seed and grain samples
from actual wheat fields adjacent the
herbicide-resistant roadside plants indicated no G.M.O. wheat.
"Given the passage of time and
large distances involved, there is no
evidence that would explain how or
if the current G.M.O. wheat finding
is linked with a previous trial," the
C.F.I.A. said in its incident report.
The agency met with the landowner to discuss the crop history
and rotations near the access road
where the problematic wheat was
discovered and farm management
practices at the operation, which
included nine fields covering about
1,500 acres of farmed land.
From these meetings, the agency
could discern no relation between
management practices of the farm and
the appearance of G.M.O. wheat:
* Producer owns and does not share
seeding and harvest equipment
* Equipment is cleaned in the field
or yard and not offsite
* All fertilizer and herbicide treatments are done by producer using
34 / July 3, 2018
Milling & Baking News
typical application approaches.
"This farming operation plants
canola, wheat and barley," the agency said. "All seed samples tested
negative for the G.M.O. wheat. No
seed was ever sold by the landowners. There have been no confined
research field trials on the site, or
consultants or crop scouts who have
visited the farm."
The agency also interviewed lease
holders who use the access road, along
which there has been no construction,
ground cover seeding or straw mats
used in the past five years.
"All leads were thoroughly explored," said the agency, which reported no indication the G.M.O.
wheat was growing elsewhere. Health
prevent these incidents happening in
the future is to ban outdoor testing."
Mr. Boehm last month wrote to
the C.F.I.A. requesting disclosure of
current and past open-air G.M.O.
test plot locations, saying the information would aid farmers "on the
look-out for escapes, and as citizen
monitors, assist in the eradication of
contamination risks if additional genetically-modified plants are found,"
the N.F.U. said.
The C.F.I.A. said it will "continue
to work with the landowner to monitor the area over the next three years
to help prevent any G.M.O. wheat
That includes multi-year monitoring and mitigation efforts along the
The agency said field trials of genetically-modified wheat have been
grown by biotech companies most
'Given the passage of time and large
distances involved, there is no evidence
that would explain how or if the
current G.M.O. wheat finding is linked
with a previous trial.'
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Canada concluded no public health
safety risk was posed.
The C.F.I.A. later revealed the modified plants were not durum wheat, the
main ingredient in pastas and couscous that represents a significant portion of Canadian wheat exports.
No G.M.O. wheat has been approved for commercial use, but Canada has approved the modified herbicide-tolerant trait in canola, corn and
soybeans for 20 years after safety assessments showed no risk to humans,
animals or the environment.
The National Farmers Union of
Canada (N.F.U.) has renewed its 17year call for the elimination of openair testing of G.M.O. crops. The group
said the potential impact on the livelihood of Canadian farmers and the
nation's economy if contamination
permanently closed markets is "an
"We sincerely hope that the Alberta
incident is isolated," said Terry Boehm,
chair of the N.F.U. Seed Committee.
"How the genetically modified wheat
plants ended up in the location where
they were found remains a mystery.
"However, it is clear that the test
plot protocol has been inadequate to
prevent an escape. The only way to
years since 1998. Outdoor G.M.O.
herbicide-tolerant wheat trials were
performed by Monsanto from 1998
through 2004 and field testing was
done by Syngenta and B.A.S.F. in 2005
and 2006. Since 2013, most field trials
took place in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In the two provinces, 54 field
trials of G.M.O. wheat were grown in
2017, including 32 by Bayer Crop Science, which completed its purchase of
Monsanto last month.
South Korea's Ministry of Food
and Drug Safety said it will continue
to test imports of Canadian wheat
and flour. Canada is South Korea's
No. 3 wheat supplier after the United States and Australia.
Opportunities are opened to U.S.
and Australian exporters by Japan's
ongoing suspension, said Cam Dahl,
president of industry group Cereals
Canada. Japanese buyers pay a premium for high-quality, high-protein
wheat, he said. Japan imported 1.4
million tonnes of wheat from Canada last year and 1.6 million tonnes in
Both South Korea and Japan temporarily halted U.S. wheat imports after
a similar G.M.O. wheat finding two
years ago. MBN
bakingbusiness.com / world-grain.com