Trade and Economic Implications of Low Level Presence and Asynchronous Authorizations of Agricultural Biotechnology Varieties: A Case Study in China
China has a biosafety regulatory framework in place for both domestic GM crop commercialization and imports. China imported about four times as many soybeans as it produced domestically in 2010 and is also expected to become a major importer of maize in the near future. Both China’s soybean and maize imports are dominated by GM varieties, with most soybean imported from the US, Brazil and Argentina and maize imported mainly from the US. China’s import approval process takes on average 2-3 years, and can only commence when a submitter for import approval has already received full regulatory approval in their country of origin, resulting in significant asynchronicity (for maize, for example, only 11 out of some 29 GM events authorized in the US had been approved in China by late 2010). The China paper indicates that trade disruptions due to China’s zero threshold approach to LLP could result in a slight increase in domestic maize price and large rise in soybean price, with knock-on effects on the livestock sector and overall social welfare, and also have repercussions in the export markets. The paper also points out that although China has commercialized several GM crops and has a significant number in the research and regulatory pipeline, it has so far not opted to seek approval of its GM crop events in any foreign country. This could lead to trade disruptions affecting Chinese rice exports, although these exports are declining, but also growing exports of processed rice products.
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