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Policy

U.S. senators urge China to approve agriculture products

by Glenn Hess, special to C&EN
November 21, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 46

A bipartisan group of 37 U.S. senators, including most members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, have signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to hold China accountable on its commitments to approve bioengineered ag products. “We encourage you to urge China to move forward in deregulating products awaiting final approval, as well as to eliminate trade barriers due to regulatory systems that don’t operate based on scientific assessments,” the senators wrote. U.S. and Chinese officials will discuss the issue the week of Nov. 21 in Washington, D.C. The Chinese government continues to delay action, the lawmakers say, even though U.S. biotech companies have made efforts to address concerns about their products. Some of the bioengineered traits involved have awaited approval by China’s Ministry of Agriculture since 2011. China purchased $20.3 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products in 2015, and 54% was from biotech-derived plant products, says the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Market access for this portion of U.S. ag exports is important and, unfortunately, a bit fragile due to China’s biotechnology regulatory regime,” says Veronica Nigh, a Farm Bureau economist.

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