After seven years of review, China has finally issued an import certificate to Bayer CropScience that permits the world's leader in crop technology to sell its genetically engineered soybean variety in China.
China is known as the world's biggest importer of soybeans, but Bayer's genetically modified LL55 Liberty Link variety might only be accepted halfheartedly by Chinese, who have shown strong contradiction regarding such permission ever since.
The delay in the issuance of the permit has blurred the future of seed companies investing in research on GMO products which can take a decade and cost over $150 million to develop.
Despite the long wait, Diego Angelo, director of Bayer's U.S. soybean operations, said in a phone interview that the certificate was "great news for Bayer." It is also great news for growers in other countries that plan to export their GMO soybean products to the mainland.
The delayed permission might have come too late for other growers in the U.S. who have already bought their seeds for the year, but others who usually wait longer to pick their varieties will be able to include the LL55 to their plants.
According to Angelo, farmers are expected to grow the LL55 soybean variety on 200,000 to 300,000 acres of land in the southern U.S. next year.
Despite the positive news for Bayer, there might be some confusion regarding the effectivity of the approvals for other companies like DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta AG.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted on Dec. 17 that the two mentioned companies had not received official notifications for importation despite approval of their soybean and Viptera corn, respectively.
"He just simply said the ministry of agriculture has approved these events," Vilsack said, quoting a Chinese vice premier.