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Agriculture

U.S. Senators From Kansas, Missouri Urge Biotech Talks With China

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File: Grant Gerlock
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Harvest Public Media

As China’s president tours the U.S. this week, a bipartisan group of senators is urging the Obama Administration to push China to streamline trade of biotech crops. U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran from Kansas, and Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, all signed the letter.

Regulators in China have in the past rejected shipments of U.S. corn after determining they contained genetically modified varieties that had not been approved in China.

For a brief time, China even barred the import of all U.S. corn. That spawned a range of lawsuits from farmers, charging that selling seeds not yet approved in China jeopardized everyone’s sales. Eventually, Chinese regulators approved the seed varieties and resumed import of U.S. corn.

  Many of the largest U.S. farm groups hope the U.S. can pressure China to more quickly approve new seed varieties.

China is one of the most important markets for U.S. farmers. Agricultural exports to China accounted for an average of $23.5 billion per year between 2011-2013, according to USDA data, which made it the top U.S. agricultural export destination in that time period.

Forty-two U.S. senators signed the letter, according to the office of South Dakota Sen. John Thune, who co-authored the memo with Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

Jeremy Bernfeld is the editor of Harvest Public Media, a collaboration based at KCUR 89.3 that reports on food and farm issues across the Midwest. For more information, visit harvestpublicmedia.org.

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