China Halts U.S. Grain Imports Due to GMO Concerns, Impacting U.S. Grain Sector


cornChina has somewhat of a history when it comes to refusing GMOs from the United States. Now, due to fears that genetically modified grains will find their way in, China recently put the brakes on some U.S. grain imports, imports that amount to hundreds of thousands of tons per month. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the move by Chinese regulators is just the latest in an effort from the country to keep GM corn outside of its borders.

The grain in question is a corn product known as DDGS, or dried distillers’ grains. Used in animal feed production, it is essentially a leftover from when corn is processed into ethanol.

The concern is that MIR 162, a genetically modified strain of corn, will find its way in among the DDGS despite not being approved by the Chinese government. Their concern isn’t without cause. Of 613,678 tons that were reported at Chinese customs in April, 600,000 tons tested positive for MIR 162.

“It looks like the government is determined to stop any form of corn imports from the U.S.,” said Sylvia Shi, from the Shanghai-based agricultural research company Shanghai JC Intelligence Co.

Almost half of all U.S. corn in made into ethanol, leaving plenty of DDGS to go around. China is the United States’ top importer of DDGS. Last year they bought 34 percent of DDGS exports, more than twice as much as Mexico, who imported the second-largest amount.

GMO Watch reports:

“This development did not come as a total surprise, following as it did China’s recent rejection of 1.1 million metric tons of Syngenta corn containing the unapproved GMO strain MIR162. Official news said that though Syngenta has repeatedly submitted the Lepidoptera-resistant GM corn for review and import into China, the documenting information and experimental data were incomplete and problematic. Thus the corn is still under assessment and has not been approved for import.”

And all of this isn’t terribly surprising. China previously destroyed a total of at least three genetically modified corn shipments with origins from the United States in a move that echoes the way in which the nation of Hungary actually went and destroyed acres upon acres of Monsanto’s GMO corn fields. The soveriergn state also refused over 887,000 tonnes of GMO corn shipped from the U.S. since just last November.

The import stoppage is seen as a “win-win” for China, who believes short-term losses of DDGS supply will eventually lead to gains when U.S. farmers see the value in turning away from GM corn. One can only hope it will be this simple.