Lawmakers urge Obama to press Xi on China's biotech delay

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, September 18, 2015 - Lawmakers are joining farm groups and the biotechnology industry in urging President Obama to push Chinese President Xi Jinping next week to accelerate import approvals for genetically engineered commodities. 

As of Friday morning, nearly 70 House members, including several Democrats, had signed onto a letter to be sent to Obama. Xi arrives in Washington next Thursday and will hold a joint news conference with him on Friday.

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“China's Ministry of Agriculture continues to delay regulatory action on a growing number of biotechnology-derived crops.  It is also proposing new regulations which threaten to create additional regulatory uncertainty,” the letter says. 

“Both of these actions run counter to commitments made last year to bolster science-based agricultural innovation and trade policy and have a negative impact on the U.S. food supply chain and Chinese buyers who rely on commodity market stability.”

Farm groups and biotech companies sent a pair of similar letters to the White House earlier this month.

Seven products are currently awaiting final import approval, while others are awaiting approval to start field trials. Monsanto Co. has four products in the final stage, three of them soybean and one corn. DuPont Pioneer has two awaiting final approval, canola and corn.

Reps. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., and Jim Costa, D-Calif., organized the latest letter. 

“China has huge potential as a consumer of American crops, but its regulations right now are arbitrary and not based on sound science,” said one of the other signers, Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan.

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