China Rejects US Corn Over GMO Concerns

    19 May, 2014


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

    China has rejected more than one million metric tons of United States corn since last November. The Chinese Government says it is not accepting shipments that include Agrisure Viptera made by the seed company Syngenta. China says it has not approved importing this genetically-modified kind of corn seed.

    A GMO food has had gens from other plants or animals added to its natural genetic content. America's National Grain and Feed Association says the rejection is costly. It says the Chinese action is responsible for almost $3 billion in losses to the U.S. agricultural industry.

    China Rejects US Corn Over GMO Concerns
    China's Ministry of Agriculture has begun a publicity campaign in support of GM foods

    Wendell Schauman is a farmer in the central state of Illinois. He also is a past leader of the U.S. Grains Council. He has traveled to China to represent American farmers.

    "We're the largest corn producer in the world. We're the best supply. We have the best infrastructure to deliver that," said Schauman.

    Mr. Schauman says demand for American corn used to feed animals is up throughout the world, except in China. But that country has a very large market for it.

    "We went from just minimal sales over there to rather significant ones over two or three years, and, now, just this year, it's dropped back to almost nothing," said Schauman.

    Mr. Schauman says the genetically-modified seeds rejected by China are similar to other GMOs in that they have valuable qualities.

    "They're effective. They help us produce a better quality crop." said Schauman.

    He says some GMOs increase the size and quality of harvest at a lower cost to farmers. And he says some help the environment because they limit the kinds of pesticides control needed.

    Mr. Schauman says he believes Chinese rejection may not result from the product itself.

    "They haven't approved it, so they won't accept it. Basically, they know there's nothing wrong with it," said Schauman.

    Craig Turner is a contributing editor for the online publication He says when China really needed corn in the past, it will take any kind of corn.

    Mr. Turner also says corn prices dropped when news first spread of the Chinese rejection. He says corn was trading at about $4.20 a bushel at that time. People feared prices would fall below $4 a bushel.

    Chinese restrictions continue, but corn prices have since gone up again. Still Wendell Schauman says the situation has led to general mistrust of farmers who use the genetically-modified crop and grain companies that accept it.

    And that's the VOA Learning English Agriculture Report. I'm Caty Weaver.