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Originally published July 30, 2013 at 11:28 AM | Page modified July 31, 2013 at 10:58 AM

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Japan to resume buying Northwest wheat

After nearly two months of suspending purchases of soft white wheat, which is grown in the Pacific Northwest, Japan said it will start buying again Aug. 1.

Seattle Times business reporter

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Japan will resume buying a type of U.S. wheat that it had suspended May 30 after genetically modified wheat was found in a field in Oregon.

The type of wheat, soft white, is grown predominantly in the Pacific Northwest, and farmers here worried about what to grow next year if Japan did not resume buying. Japan buys about $1 billion in wheat each year from the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in mid-June that the genetically modified wheat in Oregon appeared to be an isolated incident, and South Korea subsequently resumed buying soft white wheat.

But Japan held out, presumably for more information.

On Tuesday, its minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Yoshimasa Hayashi, said in a news briefing that purchases of soft white wheat will begin on Aug. 1 “with the condition that all classes of wheat from all U.S. ports will be tested for the presence of GE (genetically engineered) wheat in question for a provisional period of time.”

Hayashi indicated that Japan had been waiting for such a test, which its officials brought to the U.S., “and confirmed additional information regarding the results of the investigation.”

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com. Twitter @AllisonSeattle.

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