Watchdog: No unapproved genetically modified substances found in U.S. wheat

SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's food watchdog said Wednesday that it has found no unapproved genetically modified wheat and flour in shipments from the U.S. state of Oregon.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety made the announcement after inspecting a 1-kilogram sample from each shipment of U.S. wheat and flour being stored by South Korean importers and milling companies.

The move comes days after the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed unapproved genetically modified wheat had been found in an Oregon field.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said there was no evidence that genetically engineered wheat entered the U.S. market.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said it has received technical details from the U.S. government on how to test genetically modified substances.

South Korea imported 1.72 million tons of wheat from Oregon and other U.S. states between 2010 and the first six months of this year to make flour, according to Choi Soon-gon, a ministry official handling the issue of labeling the presence of genetically modified substances in food products.

Choi said it's difficult to say whether unapproved genetically modified wheat and flour could pose safety risks for consumers, noting his ministry has yet to evaluate their safety.

South Korean flour milling companies will not be hasty about resuming the import of U.S. wheat to ensure unapproved genetically modified wheat and flour will not enter the local market, according to Park Jeong-seop, spokesman for the Korea Flour Mills Industrial Association that speaks for eight major milling companies.

South Korea imports genetically modified agricultural products such as beans and corns from the U.S., Australia, China and Europe, though some consumers shun genetically altered grain due to health concerns.

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