The International Soy Grower Alliance (ISGA) held its first mission to China in March, focusing discussion on the importance of timely biotech approvals in order to meet food demands in China and across the globe.

It is estimated that China will require approximately five million more incremental metric tons per year of soybeans over the next decade to meet its food security needs.  ISGA continued to stress, the only way they will be able to meet China’s and the rest of the world’s food needs is through the adoption of new technologies, including biotechnology.

With full pipeline of new soybean biotechnology events coming, a timely approval of these new events is of key importance. ASA and other members of ISGA have asked their governments to ensure they conduct safety reviews of new biotech events in a timely, science-based manner so that we have access to these new technologies and can meet world food needs. The group asks the same of China.

While in China, the ISGA delegation met with key Chinese Government institutions that have an influence on biotech policies and approvals. These included the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the Central Rural Work Leading Group (a policy setting organization to the Chinese Communist Party), the Development Reform Commission (a top advisor to China’s State Council), the State Administration of Grain, Sinograin, COFCO and others.

U.S. participants did raise concerns in several of the meetings about how MoA has gone from issuing approvals three times per year previously to only once per year the past two years, and that a once-per-year approval process would hinder the adoption of new technologies that is important to meeting China’s food security needs.

The group take-away from the meetings was, Chinese policy makers understand that China needs to rely on imports to meet its food security needs (today around 85 percent of China’s soy demand is met via imports) and to produce the meat, fish, milk, eggs, vegetable oil its consumers need.  They also seemed to understand and agree with the ISGA message that to meet China’s growing soy demand, our farmers need access to new technologies.  The ISGA delegation was told the Chinese approach to biotech would be “positive but cautious.”

ISGA representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and the United States (USB, USSEC and ASA) all participated in the March meetings.

These countries represent more than 90 percent of global soybean production and trade.