E-mail this article to
yourself or a friend.
Enter address:


China eases some of US concerns about GM soybean import rules

(Monday, Sept. 9, 2002 -- CropChoice news) --

Dow Jones/Reuters, 09/06/02, via AgNet: BEIJING -- Special Counsel to the Secretary of Agriculture, David Hegwood, was cited as saying Friday that China has eased some U.S concerns about a potential threat to soybean imports posed by China's new regulations on genetically modified agricultural products due to come into effect on Dec. 20, although a date for talks to clarify the concerns hasn't yet been set, adding, "What we got is in addition to a (previously expressed) political commitment that there'll be no trade disruption, there's an understanding on the Chinese side of how trade could be disrupted."

The stories note that Hegwood is a member of the joint U.S.-China Biotechnology Working Group established during U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman's July China visit.

The working group is tasked with ensuring that agricultural imports aren't disrupted by the Dec. 20 conclusion of a U.S.-brokered transitional agreement that has permitted imports to continue while China clarifies its GMO import safety certificate rules.

The rules were introduced in January by the agriculture ministry and the quarantine service, and have been criticized as vague and unpredictable. The new rules are widely perceived as non-tariff barriers to shield China's farm sector from the impact of increased imports, as well as an attempt by cash-strapped ministries to expand their regulatory reach to bolster revenue.

The Chinese officials fell short of promising to extend the December 20 deadline on the temporary regime, which has helped keep up U.S. soybean orders from China, worth $1 billion last year, on track since March, and did not say how the transition would happen, Hegwood said.

But they promised the shift to the new rules would not disrupt trade or hurt U.S. soybean sales to its biggest customer, a commitment China made when Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman visited in July.