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7-Business: Corn exporters and Syngenta hope Japan authorizes Bt10 corn next month



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TITLE:  Corn Exporters, Syngenta Hope Japan Authorizes Bt10 Corn Next Month
SOURCE: Inside U.S. Trade, USA
        http://www.soyatech.com/bluebook/news/viewarticle.ldml?a=20050906-8
DATE:   6 Sep 2005

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Corn Exporters, Syngenta Hope Japan Authorizes Bt10 Corn Next Month

U.S. corn exporters and Syngenta, a Swiss company that produces a
genetically modified corn called Bt10, are hoping the Japanese government
moves closer next month to accepting U.S. feed shipments that contain a
low level of this unauthorized GMO.

Japan could accept U.S. shipments with a low level of Bt10 if an
independent Japanese commission recommended to the Japanese government
that it would be safe to import U.S. feed contaminated with at most 1
percent of Bt10, or if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration deems Bt10
as safe for food and feed.

The Japanese government in June asked the Food Safety Commission, an
independent committee of scientific experts, whether it was safe to
import U.S. feed shipments that could have up to 1 percent of Bt10. The
Food Safety Commission has been meeting on the issue ever since, and the
next scheduled meeting is set for Sept. 12, according to a Japanese official.

Once the commission offers its recommendation to the Japanese government,
a four-week public consultation will ensue. After that, the Japanese
government can change a regulation that implements Japan's feed safety
law in order to authorize imports of U.S. corn shipments containing less
than 1 percent Bt10.

However, a Japanese official and U.S. corn exporters agree that this
process is unlikely to conclude until next year -- when U.S. corn
harvests are expected to be free of Bt10. Syngenta had accidentally sold
corn seeds to U.S. farmers earlier this year with Bt10. Since then, it
has recalled those seeds and industry sources said it is unlikely that
the new harvest next year will contain the GMO.

According to Syngenta Spokeswoman Sarah Hull, another alternative to
allowing imports would be for Japan to use a regulation that authorizes
up to 1 percent of an unauthorized GMO such as Bt10, if it is from
countries that have approved the GMO in question and if these countries
are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD).

Hull said companies typically get GMOs approved by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Because
Syngenta never intended to get Bt10 approved to sell commercially, Japan
has said it would accept the completion of a so-called "consultation" or
review of Bt10 by the Food and Drug Administration to determine their
safety as food for humans or animals (Inside U.S. Trade, June 24, p. 12).

The FDA review is not required in the U.S. GMO approval process, but is
typically done to offer an additional assurance to U.S. and foreign
consumers, Hull said.

Syngenta had asked the FDA to start this process in June, and since then
has provided the FDA with information it has asked for, Hull said. She
added that the FDA has not revealed when it would finish the consultation
process. However, Hull and U.S. corn industry sources said that the FDA
process could be completed before Japan changes its regulations, and
noted that the FDA has mentioned in a congressional hearing earlier this
year that the Bt10 review is a top priority.

In the meantime, the majority of U.S. exporters are testing their
shipments to ensure they are is not contaminated with Bt10. Without the
testing, U.S. exporters risk having their shipments destroyed or turned back.

Sources said the testing has allowed U.S. corn to land in Japan, and
noted that the U.S. has shipped Japan about 4 million metric tons so far,
more than last year at this time. U.S. corn exporters were on track to
ship 16 million metric tons for the year, but damages caused by Hurricane
Katrina to the port of New Orleans and oil refineries off shore could
affect U.S. shipments (see related story).

To date, Japan has turned away or destroyed 10 U.S. shipments of feed
because they contained Bt10. The latest shipment was discovered on Aug.
24. However, all of these shipments contained less than 1 percent Bt10,
which led some sources to believe that if Japan endorses the 1 percent
threshold, it would enable all U.S. shipments of feed to be imported into
Japan.




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