China extends temporary agreement on imports of genetically modified crops

BEIJING (AP) - China has extended a temporary agreement to allow imports of genetically modified soybeans and other products until April 2004, according to a news report. 

Agriculture Ministry officials announced the extension of the Sept. 20 expiration Monday to representatives of biotechnology companies, Dow Jones Newswires reported. 

It cited a diplomatic source and an industry source who weren't identified further. 

The U.S.-brokered agreement was intended to prevent disruption in the United States' US$1 billion-a-year soybean exports to China after Beijing announced new safety rules in January. 

Chinese officials said the extension was intended to allow time to complete field safety trials of foreign genetically modified soybeans, canola and corn, according to Dow Jones. 

Uncertainty about the regulations has been blamed for a 37 percent decline this year in planned U.S. soybean shipments to China. 

Shipping schedules require exporters to be certain three months in advance which crops China will admit. - AP 

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