South Koreans Take Stand Against Genetically Altered Wheat
South Korean flour millers plan to "boycott" U.S. wheat if genetically
altered wheat is introduced in the United States, a delegation of
millers said at the conclusion of a U.S. tour today.
Korean companies fear that if they purchase genetically modified
wheat for flour and other products consumer groups will stage demonstrations
urging consumers not to buy their products, Il Woong Kim, president
of the Shinhan Flour Mills Co. Ltd. in Seoul, told a news conference
in Washington. Kim also said he stopped buying U.S. corn since the
StarLink incident in 2000 in which corn that was not approved for
human consumption made its way into consumer products.
Kim said he could buy conventional corn from the United States,
but it is $10 to $15 per metric ton higher than genetically modified
Even if USDA certifies that U.S. wheat contains no genetically
modified organisms, the Korean Flour Mills Industrial Association
told North Dakota's agriculture commissioner that they also want
state certification that its hard red spring wheat contains no GMOs.
An association spokesman said the group demanded the certificate
because genetic modification for hard red spring wheat is more advanced
than that of other varieties. Hi Sang Lee, chairman of the Korean
Flour Mills Industrial Association, expressed concern that the introduction
of genetically modified wheat will damage the market for wheat from
other countries because of consumer mistrust.
The Korean group purchased 208,000 metric tons of wheat during
their trip, which included stops in Oregon, Montana and North Dakota.
Korea has bought a total of 1.6 million metric tons of wheat this
year and ranks fifth in U.S. wheat purchases, behind Japan's 3.3
million metric tons, Mexico's 2.5 million metric tons, Nigeria's
1.8 million metric tons and the Philippines' 1.65 million metric
tons. -- by Jerry Hagstrom