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U.S. Grains Council Defends GMO Corn to China

Kevin Roepke 03/31/2014 @ 10:24am Director of Trade Development for the US Grains Council--Beijing

This past week, almost 800 of China’s largest and most influential feedstuff traders, end users, and government researchers attended JCI’s biannual China Feed Conference, held in Xiamen, China.  With the ever so important meeting of the National Biosafety Committee expected soon, trade association and industry representatives made sure to take this opportunity to highlight some advantages of transgenic crops while debunking some of the myths. Both the U.S. Grains Council and U.S. Soybean Export Council capitalized on the spotlight by presenting at the influential conference and dispelling many myths and rumors the public has heard regarding transgenic crops. 

The U.S. Grains Council proved the safety of GMO food and introduced the concept of “peer review,” where studies fall apart that prove otherwise. Additionally, with much of China’s corn belt experiencing moldy and toxic corn, maintaining corn quality is a hot topic among China feed manufactures.  As much as a RMB70-per-tonne spread is beginning to form between moldy and nonmoldy corn in the northeast. The Council suggested that by reducing vulnerability to insect damage, GMO corn has a greater chance of resisting mold. The USSEC debunked a popular Chinese documentary that presented false and misleading information regarding GMO safety.

The National Biosafety Committee is slated to meet three times a year. During the next meeting, the group is expected to debate approval of Syngenta’s MIR 162, which has effectively halted corn imports from both North and South America. Additionally, if the group doesn’t approve Syngenta’s newest trait — Duracade — for field trials, the soonest exporters can expect approval for that trait is 2016. Should Duracade fail to achieve approval for field trials, the next Biosaftey Committee meeting is slated to be held in June, which will close the window on getting the crop planted in time to study the effects on the Chinese environment. The upcoming meetings mark the highest profile and most publicized National Biosaftey Committee meeting since China became a major importer.

Other presenters at the conference included famous policy researcher Dr. Cheng Guoqiang, of the Development Researcher Center of the State Council (DRC).  Dr. Cheng’s presentation focused on food security and policies for a stable and affordable food supply for China. Cheng discussed that self-sufficiency will continue to be the main source of food and feed grains. However, China will make reforms for “proper importation” as well as “technology support.”  

“The U.S. corn importers are excited about the possibility of ‘proper importation,’” Dr. Cheng said through an interpreter during his presentation.  He also supported “moderate imports” and making an “active use of international markets and resources.”  During the recent third plenum, the CPC was clear about making markets a “decisive” factor in allocating resources.  This is a step above previous rhetoric using markets as a “basic” factor of resource allocation.

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