Vilsack says no action was taken on ag biotechnology in China meeting
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release Nov. 25 that he was “disappointed” in the inaction on biotechnology issues during the 27th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting.
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Trade Representative Michael Froman also expressed frustration overall with the meeting.
“The focus of this JCCT was on the implementation of prior commitments,” he said. “Although China has made some progress, it has not fully implemented commitments on agricultural biotechnology that it made to the United States, which date back as far as September 2015. Those commitments still stand, and the United States expects their full implementation.
“During this JCCT, the United States requested that China commit to clarifying how its approval system for approving biotech traits will operate in a predictable, transparent and scientific manner. The U.S. further requested that China commit to work constructively to help address the global problem of asynchronous approvals for biotech products.
“The U.S. will be watching the meeting of China’s National Biosafety Committee, scheduled to take place next month, and expects that the remaining eight biotech traits will be reviewed based on science and risk, and accordingly approved.
“Lack of progress on biotech issues will continue to add years to the process of commercializing them, will slow innovation and set back global efforts to address food security and climate change. The United States expects that China will fully implement its prior commitments and will work collaboratively with us to address these global challenges in the future.”
In a statement with Pritzker and Froman, Vilsack added, “While the agricultural outcomes of this week’s JCCT did not go as far as the United States had hoped, I remain optimistic that, in the final weeks of this administration, we can still make additional progress on priority issues, including biotechnology approvals and market access for U.S. beef. I urge both sides to reengage as soon as possible so that we can fulfill this expectation and complete work before the end of the year and the start of the new administration.”
China’s Vice Premier for State Council Wang Yang Wang said during a meeting recently that genetically modified organisms are a relatively new development and that China is acting “prudently” rather than in a “protectionist” manner, Inside U.S. Trade reported.
In turn, Wang urged the U.S. to expand agricultural trade by allowing Chinese poultry exports into its market. Wang said China is “waiting to have a candid dialogue” on the matter, Inside U.S. Trade added. Wang also criticized the recent U.S. filing of a WTO (World Trade Organization) case against Chinese domestic subsidy programs, saying that it had “politicized” the matter while reiterating that China’s support programs are fully in line with WTO rules, the publication said. ❖