Japan resumes Canadian wheat purchases

Wheat being loaded onto a cargo ship in Vancouver in 2011. (File photo: Reuters/Ben Nelms)

Tokyo | Reuters — Japan’s agriculture ministry said Friday it had resumed purchases of Canadian wheat after testing showed no imports that reached the country included grain containing a genetically modified trait discovered in Alberta last summer.

Japan’s agriculture ministry said it was seeking to buy 62,957 tonnes of food-quality Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS, 13.5 per protein) wheat in a regular tender that will close late on Tuesday. It usually issues tenders on Tuesdays.

Japan, the world’s sixth-biggest wheat importer, keeps a tight grip on imports of the country’s second-most important staple after rice, and buys the majority of the grain for milling via tenders typically issued thrice a month.

Japan last month announced it had suspended Canadian wheat imports following the discovery of some GM wheat plants growing along an oil well access road in southern Alberta. GM wheat is not authorized to be grown commercially in any country.

A Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigation found the plants to be an isolated incident. The Canadian Grain Commission, through monitoring, has found no evidence that unapproved wheat ever entered export cargos.

Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Trade Minister Jim Carr, in a statement Friday, said Japan’s announcement “marks an end to all international trade actions” arising from the GM wheat discovery.

Japan’s decision, like South Korea’s June 26 decision to resume imports, “reaffirms the excellent quality and consistency of Canadian wheat,” they said.

Federal officials, they noted, “worked quickly and collaboratively with Japanese authorities to provide the necessary information to secure this positive outcome.”

“Today’s news proves that Canada’s science-based regulatory system works,” Tom Steve, general manager for the Alberta Wheat Commission, said in a release Friday.

“Not only does Canada’s grain handling system employ some of the most rigorous quality control protocols in the world, but we also prioritize transparency with our customers.”

“Japan is a long-standing, premium customer of Canadian wheat and is the highest-grade buyer of Canadian wheat in the world,” Cam Dahl, president of Cereals Canada, said in a separate release. “We appreciate that loyalty and highly value the collaborative nature of our trading partnership.”

Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.

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