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China rejects import of GMO-contaminated U.S. corn

Posted: November 22, 2013 |   Comments

( A recent shipment of corn from the United States to China has been rejected due to contamination by genetically modified strains that have not been approved by Beijing.

The offending crop that caused the shipment to be rejected was Syngenta AG's Agrisure Viptera corn. This incident highlights a growing problem of GMO contamination of crops, as seen in September this year when alfalfa grown in Washington was discovered to be contaminated with a GM strain.

The bad news impacted the Chicago Board of Trade corn futures, causing December corn to hit a three-year low. Thankfully for corn farmers, U.S. corn imports into China are soaring, as the Chinese government struggles with high domestic corn prices, compared to relatively cheap U.S. corn imports from a record harvest, and an increasing demand for food.

However, the contaminated shipment will have to transported elsewhere, like Japan or South Korea.

"We are worried. At this stage, we have to wait and see before making any judgment whether the government is sending a signal to the market that it does not want more imports or whether this is simply a quarantine issue," said one trading manager with a large animal feed mill in Guangdong.

Agrisure Viptera was engineered in an effort to increase resistance against crop-damaging insects and is widely grown in the U.S., so the genetic pollution likely came from the GM strain commingling with the approved corn.

As usual, the biotech industry denies responsibility. "Syngenta is not aware of any such incident," said Paul Minehart, head of Corporate Communications-North America for Syngenta Corporation.

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