In response to a report from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announcing that a handful of wheat plants that contain an unapproved genetically modified event were found next to an isolated access road in southern Alberta last year, South Korea has halted shipments of Canadian wheat.
The news comes days after Japan also stopped imports of Canadian wheat. Japan is a top importer of Canadian wheat.
After extensive research, CFIA has confirmed that the material is not in the grain supply nor was it grown in any commercial fields, meaning it is not part of the food system. CFIA also confirmed that the plants do not pose any risk to human health or the environment.
“For the plant science industry, good stewardship means making sure processes and practices are in place to ensure plant science innovations are safe, sustainable and effective — from initial research and development all the way to end-of-life product disposal. The ability of the Canadian system to identify an extremely small number of plants, conduct inspection activities, and respond appropriately is a testament to the strength of this system,” said CropLife Canada in a statement.
“While this glyphosate-tolerant wheat has not been approved for commercialization in Canada, the gene that makes it glyphosate tolerant has been approved by CFIA and Health Canada in corn, soy, cotton, canola, alfalfa and sugar beets and is safe for human consumption, animal feed and for the environment.”
Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed the food and feed safety of this gene in wheat more than a decade ago in 2004, CropLife added.
In an email alert on June 15, the Canadian Seed Trade Association said the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was temporarily suspending wheat shipments to allow them time to conduct internal reviews and assessments. South Korea followed suit a few days later. The Canadian government is in close talks with all trading partners, CSTA added.
“Please know that we will continue to monitor this situation very closely and will update our members accordingly. Please do not hesitate to contact the CSTA office should you have any questions or concerns.”