TOKYO (B)--South Korea's sole food-grade corn buying group, Korea Corn Processing Industrial Association (KOCOPIA), is requesting international trading houses to either replace U.S. corn it had earlier bought at tenders with South American corn, or to deliver non-U.S. corn under optional-origin tenders following last week's discovery by local authorities of StarLink traces in corn starch production, a KOCOPIA official told BridgeNews. The group will also indefinitely exclude the U.S. as an optional origin at future tender purchases, he added.

Last week, Korea Food and Drug Administration announced that five local corn starch plants had been found using corn co-mingled with genetically-engineered StarLink hybrid corn, which is not approved for food production in South Korea.

StarLink is genetically engineered in the U.S. to produce its own insecticide protein, which is feared to cause allergic reactions in humans, and thus is not allowed for food production anywhere in the world.

The companies are Samyang Genex, Shin Dong Bang Corp., Daesang and Doosan Corn Products Korea plants in Inchon and Ichon.

The KOCOPIA official said the group has requested two international trading houses to replace three Panamax-sized shipments of U.S. corn it had earlier bought for July-August shipment at tenders with South American origin, he said.

The KOCOPIA official said the group has requested two international trading houses to replace three Panamax-sized shipments of U.S. corn it had earlier bought for July-August shipment at tenders with South American origin, he said.

"KOCOPIA is now discussing with the suppliers to decide how much the premium should be in order to replace U.S. corn," the KOCOPIA official said.

The official declined to comment on the group's target level for the extra cost it is willing to pay for the requested replacement.

Between March and April, KOCOPIA bought 52,500 tonnes of non genetically-modified (GM) U.S. corn at $116.45 per tonne c&f for July 25-Aug. 15 shipment, 52,500 tonnes of regular U.S. corn at $109.32 c&f for Aug. 5-25 shipment and another 52,000 tonnes of U.S. corn at $110.80 c&f for June 20-July 10 shipment.

"KOCOPIA will probably stick to U.S. origin if the premium is $9-10 per tonne," he said. Although a journey between South America and South Korean ports is roughly 10-15 days longer than that from the U.S. Gulf to South Korea, KOCOPIA will be able to cope with a shipment delay to be caused by the replacement as its seven member companies hold enough corn stocks to maintain production for one month, he said.

The official added that KOCOPIA has also begun requesting suppliers of optional-origin corn earlier contracted in tenders to supply non-U.S. origin on fears of possible StarLink contamination.

"We have just begun discussion," he said. "We have not received any response to our request."

KOCOPIA is estimated to have bought 105,000 tonnes of either U.S., South American or South African corn at optional-origin contracts for August-September shipment.

The official said KOCOPIA will indefinitely exclude U.S.-origin at its future corn buying tenders to avoid possible StarLink contamination of their food products.

At the last tender held in late June, KOCOPIA specifically sought corn either from Argentina, Brazil or South Africa for September-October shipment. KOCOPIA has excluded China as an optional origin for its tender purchases in recent months as it contains too much foreign materials.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.