Syngenta awaits China's approval for gene-modified corn

BEIJING Wed Jan 8, 2014 5:13am EST

BEIJING Jan 8 (Reuters) - Switzerland-based Syngenta AG is waiting for China to approve a strain of gene-modified corn present in several U.S. cargoes turned away from Chinese ports in recent months, the company said.

Since November, China has rejected about 600,000 tonnes of corn from United States, the world's largest exporter, after detecting traces of MIR 162, also known as Agrisure Viptera, which is still awaiting approval from China's farm ministry.

Syngenta has responded to all requests from the Chinese government for information, but has not yet been informed on the progress of its application, the company said in a statement.

"As far as the status of the approval, we are doing everything we can to find out what, if any, questions the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture has about our dossier for the Agrisure Viptera trait," Syngenta said in the statement, emailed to Reuters.

"We have been proactively offering additional information, but we have not had any formal, official feedback from the ministry to know what is holding up the approval."

China's agriculture ministry said in December the strain was still being evaluated after the company provided further information in November.

"We have been waiting nearly four years for this review to be completed (since March 2010) and we continue to work with a variety of government and industry stakeholders to expedite import approval," Syngenta added.

Chinese regulations require the agriculture ministry to make a decision within 270 days of the application.

"Throughout the review, we have provided information the ministry has requested in a timely manner, and there are no outstanding questions for Syngenta," the company said.

Industry sources said Beijing's scrutiny of GMO corn is prompted by a glut in domestic supply as it seeks to curb cheap imports and support domestic prices of the grain to help farmers. (Reporting by Niu Shuping and David Stanway; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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