Beijing—Chinese officials recently denied entrance to a cargo shipment of corn from the United States on the grounds that it was contaminated with an unapproved strain of genetically modified corn, Reuters reports.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are slowly being adopted as food sources by the Chinese government, and even the strain rejected in this case, MIR 162 from Syngenta AG’s Agrisure Viptera line of insecticide-resistant corn, is reportedly set to be approved soon. Chinese state media has been ramping up efforts to assure citizens that GMOs are safe and necessary to feed a booming population.

This is the second rejection by China of corn containing traces of GMOs from the United States since 2010. Corn prices are soaring in China, and in response, the country has dramatically increased its imports of the crop, primarily from the United States. The Chicago Board of Trade reported lower futures prices on corn in the wake of this latest GMO incident. The United States agricultural industry was also forced to contend with the consequences of unapproved GMO wheat being found in crop fields earlier in 2013. Upon the discovery, nations including Japan voiced concerns about importing U.S. wheat.

Despite increasingly deregulated markets for GMO seeds, many consumers worldwide are making known their preference to avoid GMOs. Market research company Packaged Facts recently released an assessment of the non-GMO food and beverage market that included a projection of $800 billion in sales by 2017. This would account for about 15% of the global food and beverage market.


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2014 (online 11/27/13)