News / Economy

Chinese Rejection of Some GMO Corn Worries US Farmers

Kane Farabaugh
Since November, China has rejected more than a million metric tons of U.S. corn, citing the use of a certain trait of a genetically-modified corn seed the country has not approved for import.  The National Grain and Feed Association says the rejected corn is costing almost $3 billion in economic losses for the U.S. agricultural industry.  But as Despite the controversy over so-called GMO corn, it is not hurting current demand, or price.

Farmer Wendell Shauman knows that most of what he is starting to plant this year will eventually travel far from his cornfields in Illinois.

“We’re the largest corn producer in the world. We’re the best supply.  We have the best infrastructure to deliver that," said Shauman.

Shauman says demand for U.S. corn used to feed livestock is up worldwide, except in the third largest market for it - China.

“We went from just minimal sales over there to rather significant ones over two or three years, and, now, just this year, it's dropped back to almost nothing," he said.

That drop is because China is rejecting shipments that include seed company Syngenta's Agrisure Viptera, a genetically modified trait that Shauman says, like other GMO seeds, gives farmers many advantages.

“They’re effective. They help us produce a better quality crop. Some of it increases yields. Some of it lowers costs. Some of it increases qualities. Some of it helps improve the environment because it limits the kinds of pesticides we use," said Shauman.

Though Shauman does not use the specific Syngenta seed, he knows a thing or two about GMO corn.   He has a PhD in plant breeding and has served as past Chairman of the U.S. Grains Council.  He’s traveled to China several times to represent U.S. farmers and believes the difficulty in getting China to accept this trait of GMO corn has more to do with Chinese bureaucracy than the product itself.

“They haven’t approved it, so they won’t accept it.  Basically, they know there’s nothing wrong with it," he said.

“In the past, if China really needed the corn, they kind of looked the other way and would take any kind of corn," said Craig Turner.

GrainAnalyst Contributing Editor Craig Turner says corn prices initially dropped once news of the Chinese rejection spread.

"At the time, corn was trading at $4.20, $4.30 [a bushel], and after China basically said we’re not going to take this corn, there was real concern we were going to go below 4 dollars," he said.

The price has since rebounded despite continued restrictions in China.  But farmer Wendell Shauman says, even though the situation has not negatively affected prices, it has cast a shadow over farmers who use the trait, and grain companies that accept it.

“You almost have to be foolish to be a grain company now that wants to send corn to China, because there’s only about two percent of the total market that’s planted in this trait.  But it's planted all over the country.  It's just dispersed randomly, so it’s very hard to source corn that you can be sure doesn’t have some of this in there," said Shauman.

Shauman says, to provide stability, he would like to see an international standard on accepting GMO corn which could end the uncertainty farmers face in the marketplace so they can focus more on that other great uncertainty… the weather.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8033
JPY
USD
117.19
GBP
USD
0.6372
CAD
USD
1.1634
INR
USD
63.622

Rates may not be current.