Japan aims to restart buying U.S. western white wheat as early as Aug -sources

Mon Jul 8, 2013 7:00am EDT
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By James Topham and Osamu Tsukimori

TOKYO, July 8 (Reuters) - Japan aims to restart buying U.S. western white wheat as early as August, industry sources said, after halting imports of the grain following the discovery of an unapproved genetically modified strain in Oregon.

Asia's top wheat importer is worried about stocks of the wheat grade it relies on to make cakes and confectionary, and its return to the market would boost prices for western white, hit hard in the wake of the scare over the rogue strand.

"(The government) is intending to resume imports as soon as possible, as long as safety can be assured," said an industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"But next week or the week after that is too difficult scheduling-wise, so they're saying they'd like to resume in August."

Japan's farm ministry has said that imports could only begin when it receives details of a U.S. investigation into how a GMO strain of wheat developed by Monsanto Co, but never put into commercial production, entered the system.

It has also said that the U.S. should implement tests for future shipments before they head overseas.

It was unclear whether these conditions would be met by August, but the sources said the government believes this is possible.

"(When buying begins) depends on progress of talks with the U.S. There are some conditions," Toru Hisazome, a farm ministry official involved in wheat trading, said without giving further details when asked about the timetable for a resumption.   Continued...