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 US regulators found genetically modified wheat on an Oregon farm.
The GM wheat was developed by Monsanto but never approved for commercial planting, and the US Department of Agriculture is investigating how it turned up in a field in Oregon.
Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba says it’s 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 said.
Reuters reported Thursday that the European Union 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
Japan is the second-largest wheat buyer in Asia, according to Bloomberg news.
The country will continue to import hard-red winter wheat and dark-northern spring wheat which are grown in Washington state, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota, according to Bloomberg.
Beth Hyams from OPB News contributed to this report.