Brazil Seeks China’s Approval To Supply Genetically Modified Sugarcane

Sugarcane
Workers carry newly harvested sugarcane stalks onto a truck to be used in "black honey" molasses production in Mallawi, Minya governorate, south of Cairo, Egypt February 3, 2019. Picture taken February 3, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Brazil's agriculture minister announced on Thursday that they are seeking the approval of Chinese officials for their plan to export genetically modified sugarcane to China.

Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said during an interview with Reuters in Beijing on Wednesday that she plans to raise the issue during his visit to the General Administration of Customs of China on Thursday. Diaz plans to explain to Chinese officials that the sugar produced from the genetically modified sugarcane will not leave any trace of modified genes after the sugar making process.

Ms. Diaz said that they export sugar and will export sugar made from GMO cane. She emphasized that the sugar itself is not genetically modified, so we're going to explain the scientific process and explain why sugar should not be considered by science as a GM product.

The sugarcanes were developed by the Cane Technology Center of Brazil. It is known to resist pests like cane borer and it could reduce the pesticide costs for the farmers. The Brazilian government approved the commercial use of the genetically modified canes. The Food and Drug Administration of the United States assured that the sugar produced from the canes is safe for human consumption.

Brazil plans to widely use the variety in the coming years. Ms. Diaz said that the production of these varieties will increase a lot in Brazil, so it's something we need to discuss. The Chinese government has a strict policy in terms of genetically modified foods. In April, the Brazilian government urged the Asian nation to improve the process of approval for genetically modified goods.

Brazil is known as the biggest exporter of soybeans in the world and the majority of its exports are genetically modified organisms. Brazil Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said on Thursday that Brazil's private sector can only effectively use new technologies with the importation authorization by the Chinese biosecurity committee. He added that it is necessary to better fine-tune the approval of Brazilian GMOs by the Chinese government. Orlando Leite Ribeiro, international affairs secretary at the Agriculture Ministry, said that the Chinese committee now takes roughly five to six years to approve new GMOs, compared with about 240 days for approvals in 2010.

Ms. Diaz said that she plans to present the issue of 79 meat plants that are seeking approval from the Chinese government to export beef, poultry, pork, and other meat. She added that Brazil is one of a few countries able to supply China with significant quantities of meat when it experiences a large drop in output of pork expected later this year due to the African swine fever outbreak.

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