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Australia Asks Pakistan to Use DNA Technology to test Contested Wheat

NEW YORK, March 18 (GenomeWeb News) - Australia is asking Pakistan to use DNA technology to test a contested shipment of 150,000 metric tons of wheat exported from Down Under for the karnal bunt fungus, according to news reports last week.

Karnal bunt is a fungal disease of wheat and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye). The disease is caused by the fungus Tilletia indica Mitra, also known as Neovossia indica, according to the US Department of Agriculture, which says the processing of grain used for consumption often kills Tilletia indica, and grain used for consumption is not a risk for the spread of this disease.

However, Australia, one of the world's largest wheat exporters, fears consequences for its crop. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said the nation's wheat export industry could be devastated if karnal bunt was confirmed in Australia, according to an Associated Press report from the country.

The exporting company, AWB Limited, said the four cargos of wheat did not contain the fungus when tested before and after shipment.

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