The US Grains Council called on Beijing to approve a
Syngenta genetically modified corn trait after China
raised its barriers against the seed, at the centre of a trade storm, demanding "impossible" import
Tom Sleight, chief executive of the council, which promotes
US grain exports, said it was "time for China to look at and approve this trait",
known as MIR 162, and is included in Syngenta's Viptera brand seed.
Although MIR 162 has been approved in "all importing
countries, including the European Union, for quite some time", and was cleared
by the US four years ago, Beijing authorities have stalled over a decision on the
trait, which is claimed to offer resistance against insect pests such as
This has led to Chinese authorities rejecting a series of
cargos of imported corn, and the distillers' grains (DDGs) feed ingredient
derived from the grain, for fear of containing MIR 162.
The curbs escalated this week with a demand by Chinese import
inspection authority, AQSIQ, for certificates assuring that US cargos of distillers'
grains are free of MIR 162 – a request the council has termed impossible to
"China is asking for something that cannot be done.
This certificate they're asking for does not exist," Mr Sleight said.
"The lack of approval of MIR 162 is becoming an undue
impediment on trade."
Indeed, China's move is seen by many observers as
representing, in effect, a ban on imports of US distillers' grains, a high
protein feed ingredient, often used as an alternative to soymeal.
"I don't expect to see the APHIS [trade inspection] arm of
the US Department of Agriculture certifying shipments of any product,
especially with a 0% tolerance," Brian Henry at Benson Quinn Commodities said.
"We do not believe the USDA grain inspection service will
comply," said Richard Feltes at RJ O'Brien.
At Iowa-based broker Market 1, Mike Mawdsley said that US
certification, "isn't going to happen, thus Chinese authorities have basically
embargoed our DDGs".
A halt to US distillers' grains exports on this route would
be a significant threat, given that China had become the top buyer, overtaking
Mexico in 2012, and accounting for 46% of America's foreign shipments last
The US-based National Grain and Feed Association in April
estimated at $2.9bn the loss in2013-14 to the US corn industry from the MIR 162
trade curbs, estimated to have depressed prices of the grain by $0.11 a bushel.
The National Grain and Feed Association urged Syngenta to mothball
seed containing the disputed trait until it had been approved by China.
Michael Mack, the Syngenta chief executive, said earlier
this week that the group did not have approval "in hand and I wouldn't want to
say any more about when we might have it in hand".
He said that "the delays coming out of China are such that
people just aren't really understanding right now even what the process is".
However, there was "no technical question right now waiting
from the Chinese" about the trait.
Mr Mack said that Syngenta sales of Viptera were "principally
unchanged" despite the furore, but acknowledged that they might have fared
better if Chinese approval had been gained.
"Did it have an impact on our sales? I suspect it had an
impact on our sales growth, yes, I do," he told investors.
"But it certainly has not had an impact that a number of
people had feared when this thing came into the forefront in January."