China’s food quarantine agency AQSIQ has suspended issuing import permits of GM DDGS (Dried Distillers’ Grains with Solubles, mainly used as animal feed) from the USA.
This development did not come as a total surprise, following as it did China's recent rejection of 1.1 million metric tons of Syngenta corn containing the unapproved GMO strain MIR162. Official news said that though Syngenta has repeatedly submitted the Lepidoptera-resistant GM corn for review and import into China, the documenting information and experimental data were incomplete and problematic. Thus the corn is still under assessment and has not been approved for import.
According to China’s main official website, The People, the first return of 758 MT of GM DDGS happened on 23 December 2013 in Shanghai Port in the east of China. In order to prevent a recurrence, the AQSIQ immediately informed the relevant authorities in the USA about the situation, urging them to strengthen the pre-export checks to ensure their DDGS exports to China conform to China’s regulations and safety standards.
On 26 December 2013, China’s media reported that a total of 2,000 MT unapproved GM DDGS had been rejected by AQSIQ. The AQSIQ then said they would conduct nationwide strict inspection of unapproved GM varieties, including GM DDGS.
The People also reported that currently there are 250,000 metric tons of GM DDGS to be returned that have been accumulated in coastal port warehouses in the first half of this year.
On 15 June 2014, a local government website reported that the AQSIQ branch in Fangchenggang Port in Guangxi Province in the southwest of China supervised the destruction of 7 shipments totalling 1,278 metric tons of unapproved GM DDGS. The importer chose destruction because they thought the return of low-value DDGS would cost them much more.
http://www.gxny.gov.cn/web/2014-06/423478.htm (in Chinese)
China has been a large importer of US corn and the biggest importer of US DDGS which total about 4 million metric tons per year. Due to the recent issue of unapproved GM strain MIR162, the imports of the two products have sharply reduced. The import of DDGS so far this year amounts to just 1 million metric tons because of the rejection of GM strain MIR162 and the suspension of import permits.
China’s netizens think the current situation of repeated rejections of US GM corn and GM DDGS will lead to some commercial issues, but in the long run it will benefit both: US farmers will be forced to grow more environmentally-friendly non-GM corn and China will import more non-GM corn and non-GM DDGS from the USA to improve the health of livestock.
China's full suspension of import permits seems not to have been much reported by US media. Some information is given here:
Reporting by Reed Lee in China.