Two new GMO imports approved in China 06-26-2017

China’s authorities have approved the import of two new GMO crops into the country. The products are corn and soybean. It is expected, the at the government will deal faster with approvals in the future, since the process last about double as long as in other countries.

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The Chinese government has approved the import of two more varieties of genetically modified crops. The crops that have been approved are a corn variety from Dow Chemical and a soybean variety from Monsanto. The approvals will last for three years first, running out in 2020 and can be renewed.  

In China, foreign companies must obtain safety certificates issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, in order to export GMO crops to the market. Testing, production and marketing are subject to government approval. According to market intelligence firm CCM, In 2016, China only approved one new GMO for import - Bayer CropScience AG’s GM soybean.  

In general, manufacturers and traders have to wait several years to get approval for GMOs in China. Twice as much as other countries. However, as the largest importer of soybeans and important importer of corn, many companies are applying for the approval of their crops to get some share in the market. Getting a new GMO crop variety approved for import by China takes up to seven years, compared with under three in other major markets, forcing leading agrichemical players to restrict sales during China's review process.  

Dow continues to await Chinese approval for its similarly engineered Enlist soybeans.  

Additionally, to the approval of the two GMOs, China’s government has also renewed the approval for 14 other GMOS that are being imported to China.  

However, the largest part of China’s population is still very sceptic against genetically modified crops, which gives China’s government a hard time to deal with new approvals. The country wants to increase the comparably weak efficiency of farmers with new GMOs and need to convince the users of the safety in the application. Despite increasing varieties and volumes of import agricultural GMOs being approved in China, the country still remains cautious about the development of transgenesis. GMOs will still be restricted in volumes and methods of use though they have various advantages.  

It is worth noting, that the government only approves the import of GMO seeds, but not the farming in China per se. The GMO imports are used in the animal feed industry, as the population is not willing to consume the modified crops yet.  

The deal of ChinaChem with Swiss Syngenta is a step in the direction of using more genetically modified crops, according to industry experts. The government demonstrates with this acquisition the effort to drive deeper into the production of GMOS and may open the market over time.  

China’s strict importing rules for genetically modified foods have caused some trouble for companies in the past. Syngenta for example was charged more than USD217 million for farmers in the USA, which complained about the careless marketing of GMO seeds which lost them the export sales to China.  

China’s government currently allows five different GMO products to be imported into the country. These products are soybeans, corn, cotton, rapeseed, and sugar beets. However, the authorities are working on the regulations for importing GMO potatoes as well, which might get approval soon and will be used in consumable products like potato chips, French fries, and other processed food products.  

At present, only cotton and papaya among GM crops are approved to grow commercially in China. Others can only be used as raw material for processing.  

About CCM

CCM is the leading market intelligence provider for China’s agriculture, chemicals, food & ingredients and life science markets. 

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