China gets tougher on soybean importers in GMO clampdown

26 Jan 2018 | Andy Allan, Johnny Huang

Companies that import soybeans into China could face tough new penalties if they break laws on buying genetically modified goods, as the world’s biggest soybean importer takes a tougher stance on regulating sales.

According to a statement published Thursday on the ministry of agriculture’s website, importers that purchase cargoes without obtaining the safety certificates first could see them being suspended from importing beans in the future and their goods seized or destroyed.

The new law, called the Agricultural GMO Regulation Scheme, is designed to give teeth to China’s laws on importing GMO products by better regulating the whole supply chain of GMO products into China.

“The scheme will cover all major agricultural products including soybean, corn, and wheat. Non-compliance with the regulation will likely cause suspension of activities as well as penalties,” the regulation said.

According to brokerage ED&F Man, just over one-third of cargoes sold to China have had their GMO safety certificate rejected since November – a dynamic that has made buyers more cautious in purchasing cargoes.

The new law came into effect on Thursday and comes amid tighter laws around US sales of soybeans into China.

From January this year, any US cargo that has more than 1% foreign matter must be clearly identified as such and will be subject to further inspections in China.

That, sources say, will lead to additional inspections taking place in the US and adding up to 15 cents a bushel ($5/mt) on the cost.