The Chinese government has struck a deal with the U.S. to allow imports of three genetically engineered crops, including a variety of corn developed by Syngenta, Agrisure Viptera.
That corn is engineered with a trait called MIR162 to produce a Bacillus thuringiensis protein that is toxic to several insect pests. The trait is at the center of lawsuits against Syngenta by farmers and grain shipper Cargill that seek more than $1 billion in damages from lost export revenues. In November 2013, China began rejecting shipments of corn that contained traces of MIR162. This move halted the export of U.S. corn to China.
As part of the new agreement, reached last month, China also approved imports of two varieties of soybeans genetically modified to resist herbicides, one from DuPont Pioneer and another from Bayer CropScience. The deal arose from talks at the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce & Trade.
China is the biggest export market for U.S. soybeans—$14 billion in 2013—and a significant export market for U.S. corn—$3.5 billion in 2013—according to the U.S. Commerce Department. China’s approval of the crops will lead to increases in U.S. exports to China, U.S. officials say.
Farm groups applauded China’s decision but said it was just the first step toward normalizing agriculture trade with China.
Attorneys for Cargill and the farmers who are suing Syngenta say their cases will continue because they involve past losses.