Market News & Headlines >> China’s Agrisure Corn Ban Drags on

China has still not approved Syngenta’s genetically-engineered Agrisure Viptera (MIR162) variety of insect-resistant corn, extending a ban that has caused nearly 1 million metric tons of U.S. corn to be rejected at Chinese ports since last fall.

China’s agriculture ministry told Reuters News Service on Friday that its biosafety panel was still evaluating materials related to the strain submitted by Syngenta. The biosafety panel is responsible for approving GMO imports and held a regular quarterly meeting at the end of last month.

The timing for a potential decision on MIR 162 is unclear, as Syngenta said it believed the biosafety panel's next meeting was not scheduled until mid-April. According to Syngenta, it responded to questions about MIR 162 received from the committee in February. "Syngenta has not been notified of any decision on the MIR 162 dossier in China," the company said in a statement.

Industry sources had expected Beijing to delay approval of the strain, designed to protect plants from insects, with the world's second largest consumer of corn now awash in a glut of domestic supply amid weak demand and a record harvest.

"The biosafety committee has not approved the strain," said one industry source, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue. "Given the huge domestic supply, we don't expect the ministry to approve it until the second half of the year," the source told Reuters.

Another meeting of the biosafety committee is expected in June.