US-China deal over GMO foods

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Genetically modified foods, Genetically modified organism, Genetically modified food, Us

The US government said it has reached a deal with China over
Beijing's rules for the import of genetically modified foods, but
offered few details because it was not yet finalised.The Bush
administration said the temporary agreement assures China's
lucrative market remains open to US farm exports.

The US government said it has reached a deal with China over Beijing's rules for the import of genetically modified foods, but offered few details because it was not yet finalised.

The Bush administration said the temporary agreement assures China's lucrative market remains open to US farm exports.

"We're pleased that China appears to appreciate our concerns and has said that it is developing an interim arrangement to reduce trade disruptions,"​ said Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick in a joint statement.

"It's a step in the right direction."

US exports of soybeans to China, a $1 billion (E1.137bn) market for the US industry, were threatened by new Chinese rules on GMOs that are to go into effect on 20 March. Those rules were seen by the United States as too vague and too cumbersome to facilitate any sales of GM foods.

About 70 per cent of US soybeans are grown from genetically modified seeds.

Some US officials in recent weeks had said filing a trade complaint with the World Trade Organisation was an option unless China improved the regulations.

A US delegation in Beijing this week was able to reach an agreement with their Chinese counterparts, assuring agriculture trade would continue despite the new rules.

A senior US Agriculture Department official said the Chinese government would publish details of the compromise early next week.

US officials would not comment on whether China would shorten its GMO certifying process. Traders and industry officials said Beijing would cut the GMO approval period to 30 days from 270 days.

"I really don't want to get into those kind of details because what we're trying to do here is give the Chinese time to run this through their system,"​ said the senior USDA official, who wished not to be identified.

"And if we start talking about the details before they've done that, we could create problems for them."

US soybean futures at the Chicago Board of Trade on Thursday reacted to the news by reaching prices not seen in five months. CBOT soybeans ended 3 cents to 5-1/2 cents higher, with May soybeans up 5 cents at $4.59-1/2 per bushel.

While China is not a major importer of corn, it has in recent weeks cancelled purchases of US corn, without saying whether the move was related to GMO concerns, its large grain stocks or other issues. Some US corn is grown from biotech seeds.

"China's intention is to publish a regulation next week with all the details of how imports of GMOs will be handled during this interim period,"​ the USDA official told reporters.

He added, "We hope at that point our trade will be able to resume."

Late last year, the US soybean industry thought problems with China's GMO import requirements had been resolved, only to see new problems emerge once the regulations were published early this year.

Related topics: Policy

Related news

Show more

Follow us

Products

View more

Webinars