Divisions in China Impacting Ag Imports

A government official told the U.S. Grains Council that China's decision to hold up imports of certain U.S. corn shipments is a result of the country's divisions in developing a modern agricultural and food policy.

According to Scott Sindelar - Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing - China's government has decided to use new technology and look to global markets - but this is an intense and increasingly public debate in the country when genetic modification and trade intersect. Since November - after a shipment tested positive for a genetically modified strain of corn China hasn't approved - the country has rejected some 600-thousand tons of corn. They have also rejected about two-thousand tons of U.S. dried distillers' grains. Still - other shipments have been allowed into the country.

Sindelar said China is at a crossroads and develops some contradictory policies as a result. He said China has cited lack of consumer protection and lack of consensus on the science behind genetic modification as reasons for the slow approval process for new GMO varieties. But Sindelar said there's a political struggle underway at the same time. He said no action is easier and less risky for Chinese officials. In the short-term - Sindelar said there's no easy solution to the problem of rejected shipment and slow approval process. But in the long-term - he sees a better roadmap for U.S. exports. He believes Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's project to help the Chinese with their biotech approval process will likely prove beneficial.

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