March 26, 2014


China rejects more US corn due to unapproved GMO



Following the discovery of an unapproved genetically-modified organism (GMO) strain in shipments, China has rejected more US corn, while buyers are anticipating sales from the country's huge state reserves or to source cheap grain from Ukraine.


With the detection of MIR 162, a GMO strain developed by Syngenta AG, China's quality watchdog in the northern city of Tianjin has turned away 21,800 tonnes of US corn, a news agency reported.


The figure brings the total amount of corn that China has rejected from the US to 908,800 tonnes since November 2013.


A drop in China's demand for corn imports could cap gains in benchmark US corn futures which have climbed almost 16% this year.


By this week or the next, China's Biosafety Committee will meet to decide if MIR 162, designed to offer enhanced protection against crop-damaging insects, should be approved. If no decision is made, the next review would be in June.


The rejections since November have raised speculation that the ban is being strictly enforced to prevent cheap imports in a well-supplied market, but China's quarantine bureau has said it has been consistent in its checks on genetically-modified farm products and applying rules.


China holds more than 90 million tonnes of corn in state stockpiles, with the market expecting the government to sell some grain as early as May.


Analysts said firms that have quotas for low-tariff imports are shifting to Ukraine and Thailand for supplies.


China's imports of non-GMO corn from Ukraine surged to 192,374 tonnes in February, bringing the country's total imports in the month to 479,758 tonnes, up around 22% on the year, according to official customs data.


The China National Grain and Oils Information Centre (CNGOIC) estimated total imports from Ukraine in the whole year could hit 800,000 tonnes.


In addition, China imported a 77,936-tonne corn cargo from Thailand in February.