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Imported GM soybeans flood Chinese market

( Xinhua ) Updated: 2013-10-29 11:33:11

Chen Chunguang, chief of the province's Agriculture Section of Rural Economic Commission, said local oil manufacturers prefer US soybeans because of their high quality, even in large amounts.

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Unable to compete with GM imports, soybean planting quotas are falling.

In 2012, China imported almost 59 million tons of soybeans. Domestically the country produced only 13 million.

In Liaoning, just 12,000 hectares were planted this year, down from 40,000 hectares in 2008.

It's figures like these which have local officials worried.

And it is a situation being compounded by the trend for farmers to abandon soybeans in favour of other crops like peanuts.

Wang Limin is one of them.

He said compared with soybeans, which typically sell at about 4 yuan per kilo, the price of peanuts can reach much higher, around 7 to 8 yuan per kilo. The yield is also higher.

It is a story being repeated in other parts of China's northeast.

In Heilongjiang Province, planting dropped by 30% last year. In Jilin it was 31%. In some areas, it has dropped by as much as 70%.

Soybean imports into China attract only a 3% tariff. There is also no quota on how much can be brought in.

In June, China's Ministry of Agriculture approved the import of another three genetically modified soybeans. They join the eleven already given the green light.

Experts say the Chinese soybean is in the fight of its life.

If current trends continue, government and enterprise may be forced to start plugging domestic soybeans, and the products they make, in order to boost brand awareness here.

Overall, they say China must reduce its reliance on imported GM soybeans.

"I think subsidies are necessary for soybean growers," said Song. "Right now, the government provides subsidies for growing crops, and minor subsidies for growing soybeans, but far less than necessary."

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