Why did China reject imports of Syngenta’s MIR162 Agrisure Viptera corn?

5 May

Chinese policy-makers are now aiming for the country to be more self sufficient in food; there was a good corn harvest last year

david morgan syngentaSince November, China has rejected more than 900,000 tonnes of Syngenta’s MIR162 Agrisure Viptera, citing the use of a trait of a genetically-modified corn seed the country has not approved for import. In a video on the company website, David Morgan, president of Syngenta Seeds (left), was more specific: “Trade sources within the country believe that testing of imports for the presence of MIR162 Agrisure Viptera started in 2013 because of the record domestic corn crop; the test results caused the subsequent rejection of cargoes, and the consumption of domestically grown corn”.


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US farmer Wendell Shauman deplores China’s action, but also says (In Voice of America) that Syngenta’s MIR162 Agrisure Viptera is: “planted all over the country. It’s just dispersed randomly, so it’s very hard to source corn that you can be sure doesn’t have some of this in there”.

Grain exporter refuses MIR 162: it could cause a major economic headache

Another article records that Bunge, one of the largest grain exporters in North America, announced in 2011 it would not purchase corn with the Viptera trait. This caused Syngenta to file a suit in which it effectively sought to force Bunge to accept corn with the trait. Bunge largely won, and it still refuses to purchase Viptera. Since then, Cargill and ADM have joined them, indicating their refusal to purchase any corn containing the Viptera trait that might go into their export channels. Major exporters don’t want to accept it to ensure that it stays out of export channels because it could cause a major economic headache if there is ‘co-mingling’.

Grain traders also think that China was strictly enforcing its ban as a way to exit contracts for corn and to prevent imports into a well-supplied market. U.S. corn futures soared to $8 a bushel last summer but dropped almost 50% percent by November.

Bloomberg reports that the Washington-based National Grain & Feed Association – a trade group – estimates the “zero-tolerance policy” by China has cost $2.9 billion in corn, distiller grain and soybean revenue, and may cost U.S. growers $6.3 billion in losses through August 2015.

In March, Fred Gale, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s China chair, said at a conference this month that China finds the debate over imports of GMO farm products “to be a convenient tool to use to try and protect the Chinese market”.

Is not the protection of any country’s industry and agriculture, which aims to increase self-provision and useful employment for its people, to be applauded?

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