The United States is the world’s largest producer of genetically modified crops, while China is the largest importer of genetically modified soybeans and canola. American farmers and global seed companies have long protested concerning Beijing’s unpredictable and slow process of approving genetically modified crops for imports, fueling tensions amid the world’s two largest economies.
The approvals were announced on the Ministry of Agriculture website, were granted as a US trade delegate met with counterparts of China in the Chinese capital this week. “It is a gesture of benevolence to resolve the trade setback,” said a representative from China of an American agricultural association. “The system has been around for a long time, but today they have chosen to publish that good news,” he added based on the anonymity.
The freshly approved products, Monsanto’s glyphosate-tolerant MON 88302 canola and BASF RF3 Canola were awaiting for ‘go ahead’ for six long years. Moreover, the other accepted products were DP4114 corn of DowDuPont Inc. and Soybean DAS-44406-6 and SYHT0H2 soybean grown by Syngenta and Bayer CropScience, which is now owned by BASF.
Five other products known to be approved were not approved, comprising two GM alfalfa products created by Monsanto and two soybeans from Dow DuPont. China does not allow cultivation of GM food crops, but the import of genetically modified crops, such as maize and soybeans for animal feed, is permitted.
The country, the world’s largest soybean consumer, has so far bought only about 5 million tonnes of the US soybean crop in 2018, a fraction of the usual purchases. The United States has called on China to adopt its input application for genetically modified crops to make it more transparent, scientific, and faster. The latest approvals should not be seen as a mark that China meets these requirements, said a Chinese industry source on the terms of anonymity.