Vilsack eyes progress on GMOs, talk on beef

At the conclusion of a meeting in Beijing on Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said China has promised to move quickly to review 11 agricultural biotechnology products that are already under consideration and that he hopes China will reform its regulatory system.

“I believe the leaders of our respective countries recognize and embrace the role of agricultural technologies in building a more sustainable, food secure world, and we understand that our collaboration on these matters helps to ensure the smooth flow of trade for our countries and all others,” Vilsack said in a statement released by the Commerce Department at the conclusion of the 26th annual U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting.

“This JCCT offered an opportunity for China and the United States to reaffirm the outcomes reached in September at the Strategic Agricultural Innovation Dialogue, and I am hopeful that China will continue to move forward with much-needed reforms to develop a regulatory system that is science- and rules-based, transparent and predictable,” Vilsack continued.

“With that in mind, the government of China indicated today it would move quickly to review the 11 agricultural biotechnology events pending approval, and continue our dialogue on access for U.S. beef,” he said.

“My hope is that over the next 30 to 60 days, these words are met with consistent action. We are committed to making serious and sustained progress on these issues and more as our relationship continues to grow.”

Vilsack also noted, “The JCCT holds high-level plenary meetings on an annual basis to review progress made by 16 working groups that meet throughout the year to focus on a wide variety of trade and investment issues. These working groups address topics such as intellectual property rights, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, information technology, tourism, commercial law, environment, trade remedies, and statistics.”

Trade Representative Michael Froman also said he expects some U.S. genetically modified crop strains, including GMO soybeans, could be approved by China by year end, following protracted reviews, Reuters reported.

“The approval process has been stuck for a long time, we’re encouraging China to move them out,” Froman told Reuters.

The Commerce Department released a full list of the subjects discussed.

Established in 1983, the JCCT is the primary forum for addressing bilateral trade and investment issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China. The 2014 JCCT meeting was held in Chicago.

–The Hagstrom Report