By Karl Plume
Nov 18 China, one of the world's largest corn
importers, rejected a cargo of U.S. corn because it contained a
genetically modified variety that is not approved for import, a
trade source said on Monday.
The shipment contained Syngenta AG's Agrisure
Viptera corn, also known as MIR 162, the source said.
"It's confirmed. It's one cargo and MIR 162 was the
problem," said the source, who asked not to be identified.
The GMO discovery comes at a time of surging U.S. corn
imports by China as Beijing grapples with record-high domestic
corn prices and rising demand for food. For that reason,
analysts say the matter will be quickly resolved.
"It is a minor hiccup in what will otherwise be a smooth
import process. They need our corn, they've got the orders
already placed. We don't think this is the start of some
long-term major disruption," said Rich Nelson, chief strategist
with Allendale, Inc, an Illinois-based research and analytical
Even so, the news weighed on the Chicago Board of Trade corn
futures markets. December corn futures fell 10 cents, or
2.4 percent, to a three-year low at $4.12 per bushel.
The United States historically is the world's top supplier
of corn, exporting between 10 and 20 percent of its harvest each
year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that farmers
will export 10 percent of this year's corn crop, now estimated
at a record 13.989 billion bushels.
China is the third largest corn importer after shifting from
a corn exporter to a net importer in 2010, buying nearly all of
its imports from the United States.
China has not yet signed off on MIR 162 but is expected to
approve it later this year or in 2014, according to traders. It
is approved for import by other U.S. trading partners, including
Mexico, the European Union and top corn importer Japan.
Agrisure Viptera, designed to offer enhanced protection
against crop-damaging insects, is widely grown in the United
States so traces of the grain may have been commingled with
approved corn strains in a shipment to China, traders said.
"Syngenta is not aware of any such incident," said Paul
Minehart, head of Corporate Communications-North America for
China already allows imports of 25 different GMO corn
varieties and is considering adding other commonly cultivated
varieties to the list, including Agrisure Viptera, which has
been pending approval for about 18 months.
The discovery of MIR 162 in a single cargo from its top
supplier was unlikely to disrupt the flow of U.S. corn to China.
A bulk corn shipment from Argentina was cleared for import
earlier this year despite it containing traces of MIR 162.
China is expected to import a record-high 7 million tonnes
of corn in the 2013/14 (Sept/Aug) marketing year, according to