December 23, 2003


 

China To Approve GM Soybeans Imports From US

 

China has indicated that it will grant permanent approval for the import of genetically modified soybeans from the United States. The current temporary permit expires on 20 April 2004.


"The interim certifications remain in effect until April 20. They (Chinese officials) expect to have final approval for Roundup Ready soybeans completed two months before that," said David Hegwood, USDA's special trade advisor.


Hegwood said he received the assurances when he met with Chinese officials Dec. 11-12 in Beijing to discuss biotech concerns.


Over the past few years, U.S. soybean exports to the important Chinese market have been put in jeopardy by Beijing's shifting policies toward genetically modified foods.


More than two-thirds of U.S. soybeans are grown from biotech seeds that can withstand herbicides such as Roundup Ready made by Monsanto Corp.


"Right now ... for soybeans, it looks like we're in very good shape," Hegwood said.


China, normally the largest importer of U.S. soybeans at a pace of about $1 billion annually, has significantly increased its purchases this year.


Just since Sept. 1, China has bought more than 7.4 million tons of U.S. soybeans worth about $2 billion.


The U.S. soybean crop comes to harvest around September and shippers actively export the new crop through April or May.


Beijing's latest assurances that it will continue to accept biotech soybeans will eliminate import uncertainties that could have arisen early next year, Hegwood said.

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