| CHICAGO, March 25
CHICAGO, March 25 Syngenta AG said on
Tuesday that grain prices have played a role in China's
rejection of U.S. corn shipments containing an unauthorized,
genetically modified trait developed by the company.
China, the world's third-biggest corn buyer, has turned away
since November more than 900,000 tonnes of U.S. corn containing
Syngenta's Agrisure Viptera trait.
"There's unquestionably a global trade issue at play here
relating to contracts and prices," said David Morgan, Syngenta's
regional director of North America.
Syngenta, the world's largest crop chemicals company, has
been waiting for China to approve Viptera, known as MIR 162, for
import for more than four years.
Beijing started cracking down on shipments containing the
trait late last year, even though Viptera corn had been mixed in
with other varieties since China increased imports of U.S. corn
The rejections have fueled speculation among grain traders
that China was strictly enforcing its ban as a way to exit
contracts for pricey corn and to prevent imports into a
well-supplied market. U.S. corn futures soared to $8 a bushel
last summer and dropped almost 50 percent by November.
Pressure from Chinese who believe the country should be more
self sufficient in food production is another explanation for
the government's rejections of U.S. corn containing Viptera,
Morgan said. There is no one reason behind the rejections, he
China's Biosafety Committee is due to meet this week or next
to decide whether to approve Viptera, engineered to offer
protection against crop-damaging insects.
After years of waiting for approval, Morgan said he had
become "sober" in his expectations of what would come out of
"I'm hopeful that they will proceed in the next discussion
but until we hear from them, I'm not going to count any
chickens, as they say," he said in a telephone interview.
Niu Dun, China's vice agriculture minister, said in December
that Viptera corn could not be accepted because it had not been
approved by the ministry for import.
China has found its debate over imports of GMO farm products
"to be a convenient tool to use to try and protect the Chinese
market," Fred Gale, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's China
chair, said at a conference this month.
China holds more than 90 million tonnes of corn in state
stockpiles. Traders are expecting the government to sell some
grain as early as May.
(Reporting by Tom Polansek)