Titel:StarLink issue fuels Japan opposition to GM wheat
Datum: 11 mei 2001
Bron:Reuters (Jae Hur)
Via: GENET-news list (15 mei 2001)archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html

StarLink issue fuels Japan opposition to GM wheat

TOKYO - Controversy over StarLink biotech corn in Japan has not only dampened the nation's appetite for U.S. corn but has helped stoke opposition against genetically modified (GM) wheat, industry sources said yesterday.

The discovery of the corn in food products last October by a consumer group had prompted Japan, where StarLink is not even approved for animal feed, to reduce its purchase of U.S. corn sharply, with importers scrambling to find other supply sources.

"Japanese consumers will not accept GM wheat because they are highly suspicious of its safety to human health and environment," said a senior official with the Japan Flour Millers Association.

The Japanese industry is also sceptical about the indentity preserved handling system for GM crops after StarLink turned up in food products in the United States and Japan, he said.

With the introduction last month of stricter rules to guard against imports of unapproved biotech products, Japan may shift to other supply sources for non-GM wheat if the United States cannot ensure that it will not send GM- free wheat, he said.


The new rules set zero tolerance for imports containing unapproved gene- altered products and require mandatory labelling for approved GM products.

Monsanto Co. , a leading U.S. agricultural biotech firm, plans to introduce the world's first genetically modified wheat between 2003 and 2005 in the form of a "Roundup Ready" spring wheat. The GM wheat will be herbicide tolerant.

The Missouri-based firm has said it would release the variety in the United States when it receives government approval.

But U.S. wheat producers are worried that they might lose market share when the GM wheat is introduced because Japan, the European Union, and other key markets have expressed their reluctance to buy GM wheat.

Japan imports about six million tonnes of wheat each year, of which the United States supplies 50 percent, with the remaining supplied by Canada and Australia. Japan produces only 600,000 tonnes of wheat a year.


The discovery of StarLink in U.S. corn has led to a jump in Chinese and South African corn sales to Japan, traders said.

U.S. corn sales will likely fall further as Argentina and Brazil began shipping their maize from April to Japan, the single biggest buyer of U.S. corn, they said.

Japan's corn imports totalled 6,532,296 tonnes for the November to March period, down 6.9 percent from 7,017,059 tonnes in the same period a year ago, government data showed.

One trader attributed the decline to domestic foodmakers' efforts to find alternatives to corn.

Japan's corn imports from the United States fell 11.6 percent to 6,144,809 tonnes in the period, the data showed.

Meanwhile, imports from China jumped to 140,454 tonnes from 49,021 tonnes and those from South Africa soared to 238,159 tonnes from 1,546 tonnes.