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South Korean Flour Millers to Resume U.S. Wheat Imports Soon

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July 4 (Bloomberg) -- South Korean flour millers plan to resume imports of U.S. white wheat after the Asian government found no unapproved gene-altered strains in shipments, according to a local industry group.

The Korea Flour Mills Industrial Association will soon release an official statement on the decision, Park Jeong Seop, general manager of the Seoul-based group’s business department, said by phone today, without specifying a date.

The group suspended purchases on May 31 after the U.S. discovered a GM strain growing in an Oregon field. The wheat, which showed up eight years after St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. ended field tests, hasn’t been found on any other farms or in commerce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said June 14.

The Korean government hasn’t detected gene-modified material in tests of 160 samples of U.S. wheat and flour, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said July 2. The expanded tests came after 45 products from Oregon tested negative last month. South Korea will continue inspecting imports from the U.S., the ministry said in the statement.

Japan, which halted imports of U.S. western-white and feed wheat on May 30, is looking from Canada to Australia to replace the variety favored in cakes and cookies. Asia’s second-biggest wheat importer could face shortages if replacements are not found, Hiromi Iwahama, a director of grain trading at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said June 27.

Wheat for delivery in September yesterday climbed 1 percent to $6.65 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sungwoo Park in Seoul at spark47@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brett Miller at bmiller30@bloomberg.net

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