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Need for Animal Feed: China Approves GMO Corn Varieties

Bloomberg News reported earlier this week that, “China approved two genetically modified corn varieties from Bayer AG and Syngenta AG for imports as demand for animal feed surges.

“The two strains MON87411 and MZIR098, which are resistant to insects and tolerant of herbicides, are approved for imports for five years starting December 2020, according to a list from the agriculture ministry on Monday.”

The Bloomberg article explained that, “The latest approvals are notable as China’s corn imports have jumped to a record because the domestic hog population is rebounding faster than expected from African swine fever. That’s jolted the government into action, including resuming state corn sales and pledging to expand domestic crop production.”

Meanwhile, Reuters writers Dominique Patton and Hallie Gu reported this week that, “China said on Monday it was set to approve the safety of another genetically modified (GMO) corn variety and a GMO soybean, both produced by Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co Ltd.

“The move comes after China last year approved three domestically designed GMO crops as safe, the first in a decade, in a fresh push towards commercial planting of GMO crops in the world’s top soybean importer and a major corn buyer.”

“Grain: World Markets and Trade.” USDA- Foreign Agricultural Service (December 2020).

The Reuters article noted that, “Beijing has never permitted planting of GMO soybean or corn varieties but it permits their import for use in animal feed.

“The government has said recently, however, that it wants to support biotech breeding to boost food security, leading the industry to expect progress towards commercialisation in the coming year.”

Though several further steps must be taken before farmers in China are allowed to plant the crops, the approval is seen as timely given a growing corn deficit in the world’s top grain grower.

And a separate Bloomberg article this week reported that, “Beijing’s move to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infections to the capital city is triggering a spike in food prices, with some supplies of meat and vegetables running out quickly amid fears of a shortage.

“The political and cultural center of China is testing truck drivers who are delivering food supplies via highways in the neighboring province of Hebei, where a city of 11 million people has been locked down after the emergence of some 200 virus cases, the country’s worst outbreak in about two months.

“The move has held up fruit and vegetable supplies as trucks that need to pass through Hebei to Beijing are unable to enter, said Wang Changyu, a vegetable dealer at Beijing’s biggest wholesale market Xinfadi. One local wet market visited by a Bloomberg reporter on Monday had sold out of pork early in the morning and turnips by midday. Prices of some fruits and vegetables doubled.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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