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Korea Bans US Corn Shipments in Wake of StarLink Scandal

By Cho Mee-young

SEOUL, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The Korea Corn
Processing Industry Association (KOCOPIA) said
on Wednesday it would exclude U.S. No.2 corn
from its tenders because of fears that shipments
could contain genetically modified StarLink corn.

KOCOPIA plans to continue the exclusion until U.S. corn cargoes are
no longer found to contain StarLink during quarantine, even when
cargoes carry U.S. official non-StarLink certificates.

"We will continue to exclude U.S. corn from tenders until a solution
is found," an official at KOCOPIA, a major corn importer for human
consumption in Korea, told Reuters.

KOCOPIA excluded U.S. corn in its Wednesday tenders because U.S. cargoes
recently shipped to Korea were found in quarantine to contain
StarLink corn, which is banned for human consumption.

The importer received non-StarLink certificates from the United
States for the cargoes in question, having paid extra dollars per
tonne.

KOCOPIA BUYS NON-U.S. CORN

KOCOPIA has bought two lots of 52,500 tonnes each -- the first from
Tradigrain for optional-origin between South America and South Africa
and the second from
Concordia for optional-origin between China and Argentina -- via its Wednesday
tenders.

Tradigrain will provide certificates for non-genetically modified
corn, while Concordia will not.

StarLink was developed by life sciences company Aventis (AVE) to combat a
destructive pest known as the European corn borer. The company says
the corn has
undergone years of rigorous testing and poses no health risks.

But the United States and South Korea ban it for human consumption,
while Japan has a tougher rule, banning it for feed as well as human
consumption due to concerns over possible allergic reactions.

KOREA IMPORTS MOST CORN FROM US

South Korea usually imports two million tonnes of corn for human consumption,
mostly from the United States.

The country imported 1.9 million tonnes of corn for human consumption
for the first 11 months of last year, up from 1.8 million in the
corresponding period of 1999, Korea Trade Information Services
(KOTIS) data showed.

Of the total, U.S. corn imports accounted for almost 1.4 million
tonnes and Chinese corn for over 469,000 tonnes, the KOTIS data
showed.

The rest came from Argentina, Uzbekistan and Australia.

The country's corn import figure for last December is not yet
available from the
KOTIS.

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