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USDA says StarLink find hasn't hurt corn trade with Japan

(Thursday, Jan. 9, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Reuters, 01/08/03: U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Services J.B. Penn was cited as telling reporters Wednesday that U.S. corn sales to Japan have not weakened because of Japan's discovery of StarLink traces in a recent shipment, adding, "This has had no...impact to my knowledge,. It happened during the holidays. There wasn't very much attention given to this."

Penn was cited as stressing that Japanese buyers haven't indicated they would buy any less U.S. corn due the discovery of the banned genetically modified StarLink variety by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in a 1,200-metric- ton lot of a 19,234-ton delivery.

Penn went on to explain that the USDA will not likely contest Japan's StarLink discovery. He said it is theoretically possible that Japanese officials got an erroneous result when it tested the U.S.corn, but David Hegwood, a trade advisor to USDA Secretary Ann Veneman, was quoted as adding that was "unlikely."

Penn was further quoted as saying, "This has been isolated down out of the entire shipment which exceeded 19,000 tons to 1,200 tons, and so that's the lot we're looking at, and I think given the testing procedures we don't have any reason to doubt the outcome of the Japanese test."

Penn also stressed that the USDA is looking at ways to improve the way in which it assures that no StarLink-tainted corn is sent to Japan, stating, "The thing we have to do now is look forward....What we're trying to do is to see how this happened and then from whatever we learn out of that what do we do different in the future? There are options to change the protocol to do more testing, different kinds of testing, more at-origin (testing) rather than destination (testing). Those are the kinds of things we're looking at."