Wheat Drops as Japan Suspends U.S. Imports on Modified Crops

Phoebe Sedgman and Rudy Ruitenberg: Bloomberg News, May 30 2013

Wheat fell, heading for the biggest monthly decline since February, as Japan suspended imports of some U.S. varieties after the discovery of gene-altered crops that were never approved.

Japan suspended imports of western-white wheat and feed wheat from the U.S., the world’s biggest exporter, and canceled plans to buy 24,926 tons of western-white wheat, said Hiromi Iwahama, director for grain trade and operation at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The European Union will recommend countries test imported U.S. wheat. Scientists said the rogue wheat discovered in Oregon was a strain tested from 1998 to 2005 by Monsanto Co. (MON), the world’s top seedmaker.

“Japan has already canceled a cargo as a result,” Joyce Liu, an analyst at Phillip Futures Pte in Singapore, wrote in an e-mail. There may be more cancellations or reductions in exports to come as many countries are still uncomfortable with genetically modified food, she said.

Wheat for July delivery dropped 0.5 percent to $6.9925 a bushel by 4:45 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Prices are down 4.3 percent this month, heading for the biggest drop since 8.3 percent in February.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said yesterday it is investigating how the unapproved seeds slipped out and were growing nine years after St. Louis-based Monsanto ended its wheat program. The European Commission’s health and consumer directorate was informed yesterday by U.S. authorities on the finding, spokesman Frederic Vincent wrote in an e-mailed reply to questions.

Corn for December delivery fell 0.5 percent to $5.6275 a bushel. Soybeans for July delivery dropped 0.4 percent to $14.9525 a bushel.

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