WALLA WALLA — What impact the discovery of gene-modified wheat growing in Eastern Oregon has yet to be determined.
“Obviously it’s going to have an impact, but it’s too early to tell,” Chris Peha, general manager of Northwest Grain Growers said today.
According to the Washington Grain Commission, soft white wheat forms 67.5 percent of the acreage planted for wheat in the state. The 2012 winter wheat harvest in Walla Walla County totaled 14.8 million bushels and the spring wheat harvest totaled 1.25 million bushels, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported.
In a statement today, the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates said the organizations “have been made aware that the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF) has temporarily suspended tenders for soft white wheat from the United States” because of the recent discovery of unapproved genetically engineered wheat growing on an Eastern Oregon farm.
“MAFF has not, however, suspended or restricted all U.S. wheat imports as some reports claim,” the wheat organizations announced. “MAFF did purchase U.S. hard red spring wheat and hard red winter wheat in its regular tender this week. Our organizations are also aware that wheat buyers in South Korea have temporarily suspended purchases of U.S. soft white wheat.”
Both groups protested the foreign reaction “because of the isolated nature of this discovery.”
“There appears to be little scientific reason for governments to suspend U.S. soft white wheat purchases,” the statement said. “In its announcement this week, USDA made it clear that there is no evidence suggesting that this material has entered commercial supplies and that there is no health risk associated with it.”