WASHINGTON, April 15, 2015 – U.S. commodity groups are preparing for another international meeting intended to establish protocols that ensure small amounts of unapproved seed varieties that end up in export markets don't lead to more rejections of grain shipments, disrupting the supply chain.

The next meeting of the Global LLP Initiative (GLI) will take place in Guadalajara, Mexico, from May 4-7. The 15 participating countries have been discussing how to develop approaches for the global management of low level presence (LLP) since 2012.

The GLI, established in March 2012, includes: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mexico, Paraguay, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, the United States, Uruguay and Vietnam.

“Achieving better alignment of LLP policies with our key trade partners will provide greater assurances that the risk of trade disruptions related to LLP will be mitigated,” James Watson, spokesman for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (the country’s agriculture department), said in an email. “In the meantime, it is critical for countries to work collaboratively to understand the risks posed by LLP in terms of disruption of trade flows and continue discussions on practical solutions to mitigate those risks internationally.”

Canada has composed a draft LLP policy that Watson said is meant to provide countries with “a credible and workable model,” but it does not include a threshold level for an acceptable amount of unapproved product.

Part of the goal of the Global LLP Initiative is to establish an acceptable threshold of biotechnology in grain shipments for all importing countries. However, American Soybean Association (ASA) Chairman Ray Gaesser noted that “we don’t have one of our own” in the United States, which is why groups within the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance are attempting to   work with government agencies and legislators on a domestic LLP policy.

The U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance, which includes several U.S. commodity groups, says they have made progress in persuading the U.S. government to elevate biotechnology acceptance as a trade policy issue and to play a positive role in the GLI. More importing and exporting countries are at least talking about the need to synchronize their approval process, they say.

But the longer it takes, the more reluctant some companies may be to bring new products to the market - especially when you consider that it takes about 13 years and $136 million  to take a new biotechnology trait from the point of discovery through the domestic and international approval process, according to Syngenta.

“It’s in all of our best interests to have LLP established,” Gaesser said. “A threshold of zero is not possible…What percentage or what amount would be acceptable to everyone? Is it 5 percent, 1 percent or 0.1 percent? 0.1 is pretty difficult [to avoid].”


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