BEIJING, China, February
20, 2004 -- CropChoice news -- DowJones: China's Ministry
of Agriculture has approved permanent import safety certificates
for genetically modified, or GMO, varieties of soybeans, corn and
cotton produced by U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MON
- News) , a western diplomatic source told Dow Jones Newswires Friday.
The ministry's approvals pave the way for uninterrupted imports
of Monsanto's RoundUp Ready Soybeans as well as two of its GMO corn
varieties and two of its GMO cotton varieties, the source said.
"We understand that as (the ministry) has promised U.S. officials,
it has completed the safety assessment...and told Monsanto to pickup
the official notice on Monday morning," the source said, without
specifying when the actual safety import certificates will be issued
or will officially go into effect.
The ministry will also likely post the notification on its official
Web site Monday, the source said.
China has yet to approve an additional six GMO corn varieties and
an unspecified number of transgenic canola strains from various
The approval marks the removal of a persistent irritant to trade
relations with exporting countries such as the U.S. since the agriculture
ministry and the General Administration of Quality Supervision,
Inspection and Quarantine, or AQSIQ, issued new GMO agricultural
product import regulations in January 2002. Approximately 70% of
the U.S. soybean crop consists of GMO varieties.
The rules have been criticized as non-transparent, unpredictable
technical barriers to trade that stoked market uncertainty that
cost U.S. soybean growers, shippers and traders more than $200 million
in the 2001-2002 marketing year.
U.S. trade officials subsequently negotiated an interim agreement
that was extended twice in the past two years to allow uninterrupted
trade of GMO imports while Chinese authorities conducted safety
assessments of the products needed to comply with the new import
While China has previously approved the import of specific varieties
of GMO cotton to help feed the country's booming textile industry,
these latest approvals are the first for GMO food products.
The ministry's decision bodes well for the future of GMO food imports
to China, the diplomatic source said.
"These final approvals should eliminate any uncertainty about
biotechnology as a trade barrier and remove some uncertainty in
(GMO agricultural product) trade, " the source said.