Thirteen groups representing farmers and agribusinesses this week sent a letter to President Obama ahead of the 2014 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Summit urging attention to Chinese agricultural biotechnology policy and its impact on U.S. crop exports.
During the summit, hosted by the People's Republic of China, the group asked the Administration to remain aware that China's current policies are influencing American exports.
"The Chinese market for U.S. grains and oilseeds is incredibly important to the viability of the U.S. agricultural economy," the letter explained. "China is the largest U.S. export market for soybeans, $14 billion in 2013 and corn and corn product exports were roughly $3.5 billion."
The groups are concerned that China's sluggish import approvals for new biotechnology products will stifle exports. Moreover, the group has a growing concern that factors other than science are being used as justification to reject applications.
"Agricultural biotechnology is also important to U.S. farmers, with acreage for biotechnology varieties of corn and soybeans totaling over 90 percent in 2014; enabling U.S. farmers to increase yield while reducing their environmental footprint," the letter said.
The group noted that in some instances, China's sluggish approvals have created a situation where U.S. exports of agricultural crop commodities have ceased or are in jeopardy of being rejected.
"We urge you to make market access for U.S. crops a top priority during your upcoming visit to China and seek your assistance in advancing the U.S.- China relationship on agricultural biotechnology and trade beyond the status quo," the letter said. "Doing so will ensure that U.S. trade of crops that have been produced with safe and approved modern crop biotechnology can continue to be exported to China."
Signatories included: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Seed Trade Association, American Soybean Association, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Corn Refiners Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Grain and Feed Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, North American Export Grain Association, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Grains Council, and U.S. Soybean Export Council.