China is approving fewer new biotech crops for import than before, hampering the launch of new products globally and hurting trade, an American industry group said on [March 21, 2017].
China does not permit the planting of any genetically modified varieties of staple food crops amid deep-seated consumer opposition. But it does allow the import of GMO crops, such as soybeans for use in its huge animal feed industry.
The number of annual approvals has fallen to just one last year , down from three in previous years, according to China’s agriculture ministry.
The United States is the biggest producer of GMO crops and one of China’s top suppliers of soybeans.
China has said it supports biotechnology to raise the efficiency of its agriculture sector and that it plans to commercialize new GMO varieties of corn and soybeans in coming years.
But public acceptance of biotechnology is a key challenge for the future introduction of GM crops in China, and despite attempts by the government to persuade consumers of the safety of such foods, opinions remain highly polarized.
China only approved one new biotech product for import in 2016, a Bayer CropScience Ltd soybean. Eight other products were seeking approval.
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