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Govt approves new GMO crops

By Jing Shuiyu | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-16 07:01

China plans to import two new varieties of genetically modified crops from the United States, as it accelerates a review of biotech products as part of its broader efforts to promote economic and trade ties with the US.

The approvals came right after China finalized detailed protocols on imports of US beef. The outcome was arrived at due to the two nations' willingness over the past several months to enforce their 100-day action plan agreed by their top leaders, with a goal to establish a comprehensive economic dialogue.

Wu Laping, a professor of the College of Economic and Management at China Agricultural University, said the updated approvals to US agricultural products are based on the mutual benefits that the two sides stand to gain.

"Not only will it meet China's increasing domestic grain demand, but also contribute to growth in the US," he said.

In May, China pledged to speed up checks of eight US varieties of GMO crops under the bilateral trade deal.

Two of them received approval from China's Ministry of Agriculture on Wednesday, said the ministry in a statement. The ministry gave permits to two US-based agriculture companies-Monsanto Co and Dow AgroSciences LLC-to ship their soybeans and corn to China from June 12.

The ministry said it also renewed import approvals for 14 other GMO crops.

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.

Under the 100-day plan, imported crops will only be used as raw materials, and none are permitted to be grown in China, according to Wu Kongming, vice-president of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Commenting on Chinese consumers' deep concerns about the safety of GMO foodstuffs, Wu said relevant government bodies are bound to take prudent measures to make evaluations and ensure food safety.

Related Story: US beef speeds to China by air as trade deal ends 14-year ban

CHICAGO-The first shipment of US beef to China under a new trade deal went airborne on Wednesday, a Nebraska meat company said, just two days after Washington finalized details to resume exports, ending a 14-year ban.

Greater Omaha Packing Co said it shipped beef by plane to China from Nebraska, a top US beef-producing state, to meet strong demand.

"They want it right away," Chief Executive Officer Henry Davis said about Chinese consumers.

China banned US beef imports in 2003 after a US scare over mad cow disease, but last month agreed to allow shipments by mid July as part of a broader trade deal.

Talks moved quickly, and US officials said on Monday they had finalized requirements for exports.

China is the world's fastest growing beef market, according to the US Department of Agriculture, and its imports increased to $2.5 billion last year from $275 million in 2012.

To win business, Greater Omaha Packing has hired bilingual salespeople from China, Davis said. He added that the company had received hundreds of phone calls in recent months about sales to China from potential customers and distributors.

To make the first shipment, the company, which exports to other countries, affixed labels in English and Chinese on every box of beef on the flight, Davis said.

"We'd never done Chinese before," he said.

So far, only Greater Omaha Packing and Tyson Foods Inc, the biggest US meat company, has processing plants approved by the agriculture department to ship beef to China.

Tyson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, Cargill Inc, another major beef processor, said that only a small percentage of the total current US cattle supply would qualify for exports to China under the terms of the new trade agreement.

The deal requires US producers to track the birthplace of cattle born in the United States that are destined for export to China and take other steps.

Reuters

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