Amid a meeting in Chicago between U.S. and Chinese officials, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday said Chinese officials have approved imports of Syngenta GMO corn trait MIR 162 and two varieties of biotech soybeans, Reuters reported.
Vilsack, after speaking with China's Vice Premier Wang Yang at the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, said the Vice Premier told him simply that the Chinese ministry of agriculture "has approved these events," Reuters said.
U.S. ag groups have previously criticized China's approval process for GMO traits, and the country already has rejected more than 1.2 million tons of U.S. corn cargoes since last year due to the ban, according to Bloomberg.
The corn trait's manufacturer, Syngenta, requested Chinese approval for the trait in 2010, but has sold seed containing the trait in the U.S. since 2011, according to a Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal report.
China's rejections of U.S. corn cargoes found containing the trait have spurred several lawsuits, including one from Cargill, which seeks damages it says it suffered following shipment of two vessels destined for China that were later rejected.
Cargill, which said in a press statement earlier this year that it is an advocate for new technology in agriculture, alleged that Syngenta practiced poor stewardship of its MIR 162 trait.
"Unlike other seed companies, Syngenta has not practiced responsible stewardship by broadly commercializing a new product before receiving approval from a key export market like China," said Mark Stonacek, president of Cargill Grain & Oilseed Supply Chain North America, in a statement announcing its lawsuit in September.
"Syngenta also put the ability of U.S. agriculture to serve global markets at risk, costing both Cargill and the entire U.S. agricultural industry significant damages."
While Syngenta said the lawsuit was "without merit," another set of lawsuits surfaced in October, this time from a group of farmers who said the MIR 162 trait's commercialization damaged corn prices and resulted in exclusion of U.S. corn from the Chinese export market.
Amid the reports of China's lift on the ban, China on Wednesday inked contracts for as many as 15 cargoes of dried distillers grain for shipment next year, Bloomberg reported.
Follow the story online:
China approves Syngenta's Viptera corn –reports (Reuters)
China Said to Signal Lifting Ban on Imports of GMO Corn Variety (Bloomberg)
China Buys U.S. Grain Amid Signs Import Ban on GMO Corn to End (Bloomberg)
This story was updated 2:50 p.m. CT 12/17/14 to add Vilsack comment