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Editor's Notebook: What the Viptera Battle Taught Us

08:48AM Jan 03, 2015

As this issue went to press, China’s Ministry of Agriculture approved imports of Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera corn trait (MIR162) as well as biotech soybeans from DuPont Pioneer and Bayer CropScience. The move was a critical breakthrough that clears the way for reinstating corn trading between the U.S. and its fastest-growing market. For more than a year, U.S. corn imports were essentially shut down when Beijing rejected cargo ships carrying strains of MIR162 corn in November 2013.  

On the heels of approval, more opportunities opened up for U.S. dried distillers grains as animal feed. Prices soon doubled, a welcome bright spot for ethanol plants.

There is no doubt China’s approval process is murky and sluggish at best. Syngenta’s trait was approved for planting in the U.S. in 2010, and the company submitted the import approval dossier to China in March 2010, nearly five years before approval was granted. Some traits have taken even longer to be blessed by China. The difference is that regardless of the benefits of the other traits, the seed wasn’t released into the marketplace for farmers to plant.

The Viptera situation and the resulting lawsuits from Cargill, Trans Coastal Supply Company and farmers  make it clear that we must grow—and deliver—products that our global customers want. There is no short circuiting the process, regardless of how painful it is to wait. Like it or not, it’s the world we live in.

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