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China Is Withholding Biotech Approvals, Groups Say

A group of agribusinesses and organizations file complaints against China for alleged lack of transparency in biotech approval process

Published on: Nov 4, 2013

Ongoing delays, lack of transparency and arbitrary decisions are hindering China's process of approving new biotechnology traits, a group of agribusinesses and ag organizations told the U.S. Trade Secretary Friday.

The message was delivered in a letter that was copied to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack from the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association and U.S. Canola Association.

The letter comes as the three administration officials prepare for a meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade with the China this December.

"China is now the largest export market for U.S. agricultural goods valued at over $32 billion in 2012," the groups wrote. "However, in spite of our growing successful trade relationship, China's biotech approval process has gone from being slow but predictable to being even slower, unpredictable and non-transparent."

A group of agribusinesses and organizations file complaints against China for alleged lack of transparency in biotech approval process
A group of agribusinesses and organizations file complaints against China for alleged lack of transparency in biotech approval process

The groups claim that China's position as a major buyer of U.S. commodities means that the current Chinese approval system is preventing U.S. farmers from adopting new technologies.

In the letter, the groups illustrated the complications of the approvals process, including a 19-month period in which no new soybean, corn, cotton or canola biotech traits had been approved.

When the backlog of traits was addressed, China approved just over half of the applications, the groups said, but there are currently 15 biotech applications pending approval.

"Farmers in the United States and around the world want to help meet China's food security needs and our organizations have been working in partnership with the Chinese food, feed, livestock and textile industries for decades," the groups wrote.

"However, the ability to efficiently and consistently produce and increase production of our crops depends on commercializing new biotech traits that can increase yields, improve quality, and ultimately provide Chinese consumers with more affordable and healthy food and fiber."

Click here to read the letter.

Source: ASA