Japan halts Canadian wheat shipments

Illegal Monsanto GMO wheat discovered at ‘isolated site’ in Canada

Canadian government officials say its business as usual despite the discovery of unauthorized genetically modified wheat on a farm roadside in southern Alberta last summer. Testing confirmed that the plants contained a genetically modified trait developed by Monsanto. While other crops such as corn and soybeans have been widely genetically modified to improve yield or withstand threats, GMO wheat has not been approved anywhere for commercial production because of consumers' concerns.

Bailey said the CFIA will work with the land owner, and it will be monitored for three years, and all of the plants that were found last year have been destroyed.

Tom Steve, general manager of Alberta Wheat Commission, says that the province's farming industry will be able to tolerate a suspension for a little while, but it could run into problems if it runs into September or October.

Bilous won't speculate on if other countries that import Canadian wheat will follow Japan's example, but they are working to reassure those other global partners.

"The government of Canada is working with its key trading partners to ensure they have all the necessary information and are relying on science-based evidence to limit market disruption", he wrote Friday.

Speaking at a news conference Friday afternoon, Deron Bilous, Minister of Trade and Economic Development, said the government is communicating with Japan to provide assurance that Canadian wheat is safe for the market.

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The genetically modified trait is found in other grains for human consumption but has not been authorized for wheat. "We want to be able to assure the world that Canada continues to produce the highest quality wheat that's GMO-free and that's safe".

As part of its findings, the CFIA said it checked the DNA from the Alberta GM wheat against Canada's grain exports.

Alberta's wheat exports totalled $2.1 billion previous year.

The CFIA said it was notified of the GM wheat by the government of Alberta on January 31. "They buy the top quality Canadian wheat and they buy it early in the season and pay a good price for it".

Japan imported 1.4M tonnes of Canadian wheat in 2017 and 1.6M tonnes the year before.

Still, Lucy Sharratt, co-ordinator at the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, said the discovery is perplexing. "Without an answer as to how this contamination happened, we should be concerned there's the chance that it would happen again".

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