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Updated: Japan, South Korea Halt Some U.S. Wheat Purchases

flickr/jonny boy

Japan has temporarily suspended white winter wheat purchases from the Pacific Northwest.

The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture announced the move in response to a report that U.S. regulators found genetically modified wheat on an Oregon farm.

Reuters reports South Korea has also suspended U.S. wheat imports.

The genetically modified wheat was developed by Monsanto but never approved for commercial planting, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating how it turned up in a field in Oregon.

Katie Coba is the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. She says its not clear how long the Japanese ban on northwest wheat will last.

“We understand USDA would be in negotiations with the Japanese government to determine protocols that would allow Pacific Northwest soft white wheat to re-enter the Japanese market," Coba says.

Reuters reports that the European Union Thursday announced it will test shipments of white wheat from the U.S. for genetically modified strains.

Farmers in the Northwest have planted about 4.6 million acres of wheat, and in normal years about 75 percent of that crop is exported.

Monsanto said in a statement this was first report of genetically modified wheat since its test planting program was discontinued nine years ago.

Copyright 2013 Northwest News Network