US Senators: We need faster GM approval process by China

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/jcwait
© iStock/jcwait
Several US Senators have called on the Obama administration to make the approval process for GM products a focus in upcoming trade talks with China.

The almost 40-strong group, which included multiple members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, published a joint letter​ earlier this week.

Improved feed ingredient trade has also been a focus for agribusiness trade representatives including the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and US Grains Council (USGC), with both groups echoing some of the calls in the senators' letter. 

“We support efforts by the administration to raise the level of engagement with the Chinese government regarding asynchronous and delayed biotech approvals and the potential for damaging trade disruptions as part of a comprehensive dialogue on improving US-Chinese trading relationships overall,”​ the NGFA told FeedNavigator.

Currently, some members of the US feed sector are involved in a lawsuit​ regarding a biotech corn strain that were sold in the US prior to approval for that trait in China. Feed shipments containing the biotech corn were rejected by China at that time.

Raising issues for agriculture

The senators argued that while previous discussions with China have led to pledges from the Asian country that it would offer regulatory predictability and improved cooperation when dealing with areas like biotechnology, there is a lack of momentum from the Chinese administration in this regard. 

“These commitments have not yet resulted in significant action from China, as there are currently outstanding products pending final approval, some of which have been awaiting approval for over five years,” ​noted the letter. “Although we note efforts in the last year to revise Chinese regulatory policies, the changes have not had the intended effect of providing additional transparency and meeting approval timelines with more certainty.”

American producers need access to a global market for the products that they grow or produce, the senators said. “If they are to remain competitive around the world, it is imperative that we hold our trading partners to the commitments they make,”​ group members added.

“When the Chinese government fails to remain transparent, science-based, and timely in this regulatory process, it impacts not only our farmers’ and ranchers’ abilities to access critical markets in China, butalso their abilities to utilize the best and most innovative agricultural technologies at home in the US,” ​they said.

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