China pledges to speed biotech reviews

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2015 - China has committed to accelerating its review of U.S. GMOs, a move that would smooth trade in biotech crops, Obama administration officials said after an annual bilateral meeting on trade issues. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who was in China for the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meetings, said the Chinese government “would move quickly to review the 11 agricultural biotechnology events pending approval, and continue our dialogue on access for U.S. beef.”

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“My hope is that over the next 30 to 60 days, these words are met with consistent action,” Vilsack said. “We are committed to making serious and sustained progress on these issues and more as our relationship continues to grow.”

In a separate statement describing the outcome of the JCCT sessions, the two countries said they would “jointly promote cooperation on agricultural innovation; and will create a favorable environment for agricultural innovation." Both countries reiterated they would work together to further the approval process based on international standards, and reiterated the importance of adopting a timely, transparent, predictable and science-based approval process.”

The two countries also “jointly agreed to strengthen policy and information exchange; share the experiences and practices on research and development, supervision and approval; and consider domestic and international stakeholders' comments when modifying and improving regulations.”

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Vilsack said he hopes China will move forward with “much-needed reforms” to develop a biotech regulatory system that is” science- and rules-based, transparent and predictable.”

The JCCT meetings review progress made by 16 working groups that work on issues such as agriculture, intellectual property rights and other trade concerns. 

When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Washington in September, the White House released a statement that said the two countries had “committed to further improve” the approval process for agricultural biotechnology.

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