China approves imports of GM seed varieties

By Justin Walker

Five genetically-modified (GM) seed varieties were approved by Chinese officials on Tuesday to be imported to the country, a potentially positive move in the trade situation between the United States and China.

The approvals are the first in roughly 18 months by China, who is the top importer of GM soybeans and canola. The move could help lift the county’s overseas grains purchases, which the U.S. has lobbied for.

The announcement was made on the agriculture ministry’s website while delegates from the United States were meeting with their Chinese counterparts in Beijing to discuss trade.

“It’s a goodwill gesture toward the resolution of the trade issue,” a China representative of a U.S. agricultural industry association said. “It’s been in the system for a long time, but they chose today to release this good news.”

The move is a longtime coming for U.S. farmers and global seed companies who have campaigned for China to import more farm goods for several years.

Two of the items approved in the announcement have sought this authorization for six years—BASF’s RF3 canola and Monsanto’s MON 88302 canola.

Other agricultural goods approved include DowDuPont Inc’s DP4114 corn and DAS-44406-6 soybean. BASF’s SYHT0H2 soybean, originally developed by Bayer CropScience and Syngenta, was also approved.

But five other strands were declined by China. Those included two alfalfa strands developed by Monsanto and two soybean strands from DowDuPont.

This is the first approval of GM seed varieties by China since July 2017.

“China’s approval of the new GMO products is paving the way for China to import large volumes of U.S. soybeans in the future. It is a positive signal,” Li Qiang, chief analyst with Shanghai JC Intelligence Co Ltd., said.

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