Top U.S. Agriculture Department officials and industry experts on Monday reviewed details of China's long-awaited rules for biotech soybeans and other genetically modified crops, which will take effect on March 20.
Earlier on Monday, China's Ministry of Agriculture said overseas firms exporting biotech products to China must apply for certificates from the ministry stating that the goods were harmless to humans, animals and the environment.
China is the largest export market for U.S. soybeans. The U.S. industry is hoping to ship $1 billion worth in the coming year.Beijing first announced rules on genetically modified organisms (GMO) products last June and initially required government approval for all production, sale and imports of GMO foods.
Confusion over the rules brought a virtual halt to new orders of U.S. cargoes of soybeans -- 70 percent of which are bioengineered -- as buyers worried cargoes might not be approved.
The issue also grabbed the attention of President George W. Bush, who discussed the problem with Chinese leaders during a meeting in Shanghai last October.
The United States and China reached a formal agreement in September on GMO products and U.S. soybean sales have since resumed.USDA and industry officials declined to comment on the rules, saying they had yet to study the details.
USDA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison said Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and other top USDA officials were still translating the new rules into English. Industry officials said an official U.S. translation would probably not be completed until Wednesday or Thursday.
Gil Griffis, director of Asian sales for the American Soybean Association, said he hoped the new rules would "apply equally to everyone."
China's announcement helped boost U.S. soybean futures on Monday.