Beijing | Reuters — China approved two new varieties of genetically modified (GMO) crops for import from Monday, after the world’s top buyer of GMO soybeans pledged to speed up a review of biotech products as part of a recent trade deal with the U.S.
The approvals of new GMO imports follow an agreement on protocols for shipments of U.S. beef to China that was also promised under the broader trade deal last month.
The new GMO varieties are Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist corn and Monsanto’s Vistive Gold soybean, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement on Wednesday.
China does not permit the planting of genetically modified food crops but does allow GMO imports, such as soybeans, for use in its animal feed industry.
But getting a new GMO crop variety approved for import by China takes around six years, compared with under three in other major markets, forcing leading ag chemical players to restrict sales during China’s review process.
In May, Beijing promised to speed up the evaluations of eight U.S. varieties of GMO crops by the end of the month under a trade deal with the United States.
Industry comments suggest Beijing could issue additional product approvals in coming months.
“We are aware of the latest updates of the approval process and are encouraged by the fast progress that the Chinese government has made,” said a DuPont Pioneer spokeswoman.
“We look forward to more products getting approval.”
DuPont Pioneer is awaiting approval for an insect-tolerant corn while Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist soybean is also pending approval.
The agriculture ministry said it has also renewed import approvals for 14 other GMO varieties including Syngenta’s MIR162 Agrisure Viptera corn, a Monsanto sugar beet and three Bayer rapeseed products.
The approvals are for a three-year period lasting to 2020, the statement said.
— Reporting for Reuters by Dominique Patton and Hallie Gu.