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S.Korea steps up quarantine measures for U.S. wheat

SEOUL, July 29 (Reuters) - South Korea will increase quarantine measures for U.S. milling and feed wheat following information from the U.S. government that an unapproved strain of genetically modified grain had been found in the state of Washington, the country's food and agriculture ministries said on Friday.

Korea's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said in a statement that the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, had reported the discovery of a rogue strain in a field in Washington state on Thursday.

"We plan to strictly inspect imports of U.S. wheat and flour and clear customs only for the wheat products that are confirmed not to have any genetically modified wheat," said an official at the food ministry.

In 2013, an unapproved wheat strain was found in a field in Oregon, prompting South Korean millers to suspend imports of U.S. wheat.

But the South Korean statement noted the possibility of GM wheat imports was low as the rogue wheat strain had not been put into commercial production in the United States.

Seoul sourced 619,000 tonnes of milling wheat from the United States this year with 311,000 tonnes from Washington state, according to the statement.

Korea will also step up quarantine inspection on U.S. feed wheat, the country's agriculture said in a separate statement, even though it has not imported U.S. feed wheat this year and has no plans to do so in August.

Earlier this week, South Korea rejected a shipment of Argentine feed wheat after finding unapproved strains of GMOs in the cargo. (Reporting By Jane Chung, editing by David Evans)

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