China approves first GMO crop imports from United States in 18 months
- Five genetically modified crops approved by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs as ‘goodwill gesture towards the resolution of the trade issues’
- Latest approvals after Chinese officials met their US counterparts in Beijing on Monday for the first face-to-face trade talks since December
China has approved the import of five genetically modified crops amid growing pressure from the United States to open up its market to more farm goods.
The crops are RF3 canola, originally developed by Bayer and now owned by BASF; Monsanto’s glyphosate-tolerant MON 88302 canola; DuPont Pioneer DP4114 corn; Syngenta’s SYHT0H2 soybean; and Dow AgroSciences’ DAS-44406-6 soybean, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday.
China is the world’s top importer of soybeans and a major buyer of other grains, but it has not approved any genetically modified (GMO) products for import since July 2017, when it cleared two products following high-level talks with Washington.
It also approved two products in June 2017.
The new approvals came after Chinese officials met their US counterparts in Beijing on Monday for the first face-to-face talks since US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in December to a 90-day truce in a trade war that has roiled global markets.
“It’s a goodwill gesture towards the resolution of the trade issue,” said a China representative of a US agricultural industry association.
“It’s been in the system for a long time but they chose today to release this good news.”
The US is the world’s largest producer of GMO crops, but the slow and unpredictable process of receiving approvals for GMO crops in China has long been a major irritant in agricultural trade between the two countries.
Some products have been waiting for Beijing’s approval for seven years.
China’s scientific advisory board on genetically modified crops did not approve any products when it met in June.
China does not allow the planting of genetically modified food crops, but does allow GMO imports, such as soybeans and corn, for use as animal feed.
The ministry said on Tuesday it had also renewed the import approval for 26 other GMO crops, extending their approval by a further three years.
On Monday, traders with knowledge of the deals said Chinese importers also made their third large soybean purchase from the United States in the last month.
Chinese state-owned firms bought at least three cargoes of US soybeans on Monday morning, or about 180,000 tonnes, the traders said.
One said the total was closer to 15 cargoes, or about 900,000 tonnes.