Chinese import approval for its new crops

The Asian nation has become a major buyer of U.S. corn and soybeans in recent years, but has also shown mounting reluctance to accept some genetically modified crops grown by U.S. farmers. China for the last year has been rejecting U.S. corn shipments containing traces of a type of GMO corn developed by Syngenta AG .

Now Dow, which, like Syngenta has yet to receive Chinese import approval for its new crops, faces the ire of the U.S. farm sector if traces of its new GMOs make their way into exports to China.

U.S. corn and soybean farmers have largely embraced the genetically modified specialty crops that can tolerate treatments of herbicide and fight off harmful pests, citing enhanced ease of production of critical food, feed and energy crops.

But while GMO crop developers and other GMO crop backers say many scientific studies show the crops are safe, and the USDA promotes the crops as a means to enhancing global food security, many other countries, and environmental and consumer groups say the crops contribute to health and environmental problems.

Chinese consumer wariness over GMO safety has mounted recently, and at the same time, Chinese regulatory approvals there have ground to a near halt. The last import approval for a GMO grain was granted in June 2013.

Reluctance by Chinese regulators to approve some types of genetically engineered U.S. grain is a significant problem for the entire U.S. agricultural sector, limiting access to a big export market. And those involved in the effort say there is no solution in sight.

Over the last year, the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Agriculture Department have joined with U.S. agribusiness companies to increase pressure on the Chinese government to ease its stance against GMO grains. But with each step forward comes at least one step back, U.S. industry players say.

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