Clarification required on China's GMO regulations

- Last updated on GMT

American agriculture industry officials complained on August 2 that
China's new regulations governing the import of biotech products
are hindering bilateral trade, especially for soybeans.

American agriculture industry officials complained on August 2 that China's new regulations governing the import of biotech products are hindering bilateral trade, especially for soybeans, reports Reuters. On June 6, 2001, China announced new regulations regarding the import of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). While Beijing still has not provided details on how the rules will be implemented, they require registration and labelling of GMOs. According to the US Department of Agriculture​, 68 per cent of US soybeans are now genetically modified. During a hearing on August 2 of the US-China Security Review Commission, which was established by Congress last year, American agriculture industry officials testified to the importance of developing China's vast market for wheat, soybeans, meat and other commodities. Robbin Johnson, vice president of Cargill Inc., told the panel China "has been a good trading partner for more than 30 years"​ and was "making good headway"​ toward a growing relationship in agriculture trade. But, according to Johnson, that progress was set back "when China suddenly announced a new law restricting genetically modified organisms"​ and did so "without any implementing regulations."​ Johnson said the result has been "confusion and disrupted normal trade flows."​ He added that "until the situation is clarified, American suppliers following ethical business practices are excluded from supplying China's US$ 350m per month demand for soybeans."​ Dwain Ford, vice president of the American Soybean Association, echoed Johnson's remarks, telling the panel, "It is critical to our soybean exports that China resolve these rules in a rapid, transparent and non-trade distorting manner..."​ China's purchases of American soybeans have skyrocketed in recent years, with the value of shipments projected to be $1.28bn this year, up from $472m in 1999. The U.S. industry also is hoping for growth in exports to China of soymeal, as the country's 1.2 billion people shift their diet to one that is higher in vegetable oil and protein.

Related topics: Regulation & Policy

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