|US Corn Grower Official
Cites Japan Biotech Qualms
Reuters, April 27, 2005
WASHINGTON - Japan is seeking further assurance from
the United States thatan unapproved biotech corn strain
accidentally mixed with US grain shipmentswas not a
risk to people, animals or plants, a senior official
of a USindustry group told Reuters Tuesday.
Japanese corn buyers have slowed purchases due to fears
they could facemillions of dollars in losses if their
cargoes contain Bt10 -- an unauthorizedstrain of genetically
modified corn made by Swiss agrochemicals group SyngentaAG
. The maize mix-up occurred between 2001 and 2004.
National Corn Growers Association Chief Executive Officer
Rick Tolman saidJapan wanted assurances from the US
Food and Drug Administration about the safety of the
Bt10 corn strain in food and feed.
"Japan is looking for a strong statement from
the FDA on this beingapproved," Tolman said in
an interview after meeting with top Bush administrationofficials.
But Tolman said the FDA does not have oversight in
the Syngenta case.
Both the US Agriculture Department and the Environmental
Protection Agency have concluded that the Bt10 strain
does not pose a danger to people, animals or plants.
USDA officials were expected to seek clarification
from Japan on what exactly Tokyo wanted. Tolman said
the issue "should be resolved shortly."
Tolman said Tokyo was also close to deciding whether
to begin testing for Bt10 in US corn shipments.
"Syngenta has delivered tests to Japan and they
are currently looking at the tests to verify them and
make sure that it is what they want to do," he
Earlier this month, Europe blocked imports of US maize
animal feed and grains unless there was proof the shipments
did not contain the biotech strain.
The European Union this week approved the Syngenta
tests, enabling imports of US maize animal feed and
grains to resume.
"They (USDA) reassured us that things were pretty
well straightened out with the EU," he said.
USDA has fined Syngenta $375,000 for the mistake. The
EPA was expected to conclude its own separate investigation
Tolman and other members of the US Agriculture Department's
trade advisory committee met with USDA Secretary Mike
Johanns and other government officials to discuss the
Bt10 corn incident and other trade issues.
Story by Randy Fabi
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE