China approves two new GM crops from U.S. for import, renews 10 others

BEIJING (Reuters) - China approved two new genetically modified (GM) crops for import on Monday that could boost agricultural purchases from the United States, while renewing permits for 10 others, the Chinese agriculture ministry said.

Earlier this month, Beijing and Washington announced a Phase 1 trade deal, under which China has agreed to import more farm goods from the United States.

The United States has demanded that China change its GM crop import application process, saying they want it to be more transparent, timely and based on scientific methods.

The two new GM crops approved were Corteva Agriscience’s DAS-81419-2 soybean and 55-1 papaya, jointly developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Hawaii University.

Corteva said it was pleased Chinese authorities had authorized imports of the Conkesta soybean trait, which controls insects. Conkesta will be stacked with another GM soybean trait called Enlist E3, which resists weed killers.

Corteva was the agricultural unit of DowDuPont, prior to being spun off as an independent company. It is still waiting for Chinese regulators to review a canola trait, which has been approved for years in the United States, Canada and other markets.

Monday’s approvals were seen “as more evidence of progress as a result of the trade talks,” said Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist for U.S. broker INTL FCStone.

“Dealing with a quicker and more transparent process of approvals was certainly something the U.S. was pushing for,” he said.

The United States is the world’s biggest producer of GM crops, while China is the top importer of GM soybeans and canola.

U.S. farmers and global seed companies have long complained about Beijing’s slow and unpredictable process for approving GM crops for import.

“This further expands channels for imports of U.S. agricultural products, and helps pave the way for buying more U.S. soybeans,” said Li Qiang, chief analyst with Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. Ltd.

“Approval of the papaya variety could help promote more fruit imports from the U.S.,” Li added.

China also renewed permission for imports of 10 other GM products, including BASF developed T25 corn, A5547-127 soybean, T45 canola, Oxy-235 canola, and Ms8Rf3 canola.

Bayer-owned Monsanto Far East Ltd’s MON89788 soybean, 15985 cotton and H7-1 beet were also reapproved, along with DuPont subsidiary Pioneer’s 305423 soybean and 305423×GTS40-3-2 soybean.

All approvals took effect from Dec. 2 2019 and will last for three years, according to a statement on the agriculture ministry’s website.

Bayer and BASF had no immediate comments.

Reporting by Shivani Singh and Hallie Gu in Beijing; Additional reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by Richard Pullin and Rosalba O’Brien