CORRECTED-China still evaluating banned Syngenta GMO corn -agmin

Mon Dec 9, 2013 2:20am EST

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(Corrects paragraph 2 to show Syngenta is based in Switzerland, not the U.S.)

BEIJING Dec 6 (Reuters) - China is still evaluating whether to approve the strain of genetically-modified corn that caused it to reject some U.S. imports in the last few weeks after its discovery in cargoes, a spokesman for the country's agriculture ministry said.

The spokesman, Bi Meijia, said at a press briefing on Friday that the strain, Syngenta's insect-resistant MIR162, was still being evaluated after Switzerland-based Syngenta provided additional information about the product in November.

Bi said that although Syngenta had applied for approval as early as 2010, the testing data for MIR162 was not yet complete.

He did not give any timetable for when the corn may be approved.

The strain is already shipped to Japan, South Korea, Russia and even the European Union, which is notoriously slow in approving GMO crop varieties.

At the same briefing, agriculture minister Han Changfu said that China was committed to maintaining its 95 percent rate of self-sufficiency in grain, but would take greater advantage of international markets to guarantee supply.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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