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Asia might not be ready for biotech wheat

(Thursday, June 26, 2003 -- CropChoice news) --Reuters: PHUKET, Thailand - U.S. industry officials were cited as warning on Thursday that many Asian nations are not yet ready to accept biotech wheat, and that any move to push it aggressively could help Australia snatch some key U.S. customers like Japan.

Kurt Haarmann, merchant at Columbia Grain International Inc, a leading U.S. exporter, was quoted as saying on the sidelines of an Asia wheat conference that, "Just because we forced other things like biotech corn and soybeans, we are getting this backlash in Europe. That, I think, has set our market back by five years, not forward. I hope that biotech companies have learnt a lesson from that. We as exporters were probably a little negligent in not policing that better and not worrying more about what our customers thought about the products."

Alan Tracy, president of the U.S. Wheat Associates, was quoted as telling Reuters that, "Customer acceptance is a serious issue in Asia. Japan is really the key and it's an area from where some of the greatest concerns have been expressed."

U.S. wheat trade officials added that Australia would be strongly eyeing the Japanese market and a lot of discussion was needed with Japanese authorities to keep the market intact.