* China has rejected total of 908,800 T of US corn in 5 mths
* Says cargoes tainted with MIR 162 GMO strain
* China committee to meet soon to decide whether to approve
* China could sell from huge state corn reserves in May
(Adds comment, detail)
BEIJING, March 25 China has turned away more
U.S. corn after detecting an unapproved genetically-modified
strain in shipments, with buyers waiting for sales from the
country's huge state reserves or shifting to cheap grain from
China's quality watchdog in the northern city of Tianjin
turned away 21,800 tonnes of U.S. corn after detecting MIR 162,
a GMO strain developed by Syngenta AG that Beijing has
not approved for import, the official Xinhua news agency
reported late on Monday.
That brings the total amount of corn that China has rejected
from the United States, the world's largest exporter, to 908,800
tonnes since November.
A decline in China's appetite for corn imports could cap
gains in benchmark U.S. corn futures that have climbed
almost 16 percent this year.
"The industry is not optimistic over imports from the United
States. Resolution of the GMO issue could drag on until the
second half of the year," said an industry analyst with an
official think-tank in Beijing.
China's Biosafety Committee will meet this week or next to
decide if MIR 162, designed to offer enhanced protection against
crop-damaging insects, should be approved. If no decision is
made, the next review would be in June.
The rejections since November have raised speculation that
the ban is being strictly enforced to prevent cheap imports in a
well-supplied market, but China's quarantine bureau has said it
has been consistent in its checks on genetically-modified farm
products and applying rules.
China holds more than 90 million tonnes of corn in state
stockpiles, with the market expecting it to sell some grain as
early as May.
Firms that have quotas for low-tariff imports are shifting
to Ukraine and Thailand for supplies, analysts said.
China's imports of non-GMO corn from Ukraine surged to
192,374 tonnes in February, bringing the country's total imports
in the month to 479,758 tonnes, up around 22 percent on the
year, according to official customs data.
The China National Grain and Oils Information Center
(CNGOIC) estimated total imports from Ukraine in the whole year
could hit 800,000 tonnes.
China also imported a 77,936-tonne corn cargo from Thailand
(Reporting by Niu Shuping and David Stanway in Beijing and
Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Joseph Radford)