CHINA – China has approved five new genetically modified crops for import in the midst of the just-began trade talks with the United States, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs revealed.

The move which aims to boost its overseas trade saw the approval of two rapeseed products, one corn and two soybean products.

The crops are RF3 canola, originally developed by Bayer and now owned by BASF; Monsanto’s glyphosate-tolerant MON 88302 canola; DuPont Pioneer DP4114 corn; Syngenta’s SYHT0H2 soybean; and Dow AgroSciences’ DAS-44406-6 soybean, according to a Reuters report.

In 2017, China’s agriculture

imports from U.S. were

worth US$24.1 billion

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs

China, which last approved GMO products in July 2017, has also given new consent to import other 26 genetically modified crops.

This comes even as China tries to ease pressure from the United States, with which it has locked horns over unfair trade practices.

Trade talks

In order to work a common ground and address the concerns by each country, a trade delegation from the US has visited Beijing to meet their Chinese counterparts.

The face-to-face talks follows a truce arrived at by U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on a ‘90-days ceasefire’ period in December last year.

China which is the world’s largest soybean importer and a major buyer of other grains such as canola, does not allow the planting of GM food crops but allows imports of GM crops for animal feed.

Approval of GM crops in China has been characterized with a slow and reluctant process, global seed companies from the US and around the world terming it as an ‘unfair’ trade practice.

These among other factors have culminated into trade tensions between China and the US, the former having slapped 25% tariff on soybean imports from the US.

In July 2017, China okayed two more genetically modified products (Syngenta’s Agrisure Duracade corn and Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn) for import following high-level talks with Washington.

It also approved two products in June 2017.

Reprieve for farmers

The development is good news to US farmers and could be an indication that the Trump-Xi talks are starting to bear fruits.

Farmers in North America found themselves in a dilemma with the loss of the global market, born of the US-China strife.

Before the trade war, China is said to have bought 60% of US soybeans.

In 2017, China’s agriculture imports from U.S. were worth US$24.1 billion, and according Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs data, that was about 19% of total farm imports worth US$125.86 billion.

China so far purchased only about 5 million tonnes of the 2018 U.S. soy harvest, a fraction of what it buys.

According to Jim Everson, president of industry group the Canola Council, the newly approved canola will allow farmers in Canada to boost production.

“The industry expects growers will produce US$400 million more canola every year using the same amount of land – a step-change for canola productivity,” said Everson in a statement.

Five other products known to be seeking approvals were not given the green light, including two GM alfalfa products developed by Monsanto and two DowDuPont soybean traits, Reuters reports.