Rumors that China was set to shorten the period for approval of genetically modified organism (GMO) certificates appear to have been unfounded.

OsterDowJones (ODJ) reports that cash sources with Asian connections in the U.S. were suggesting that, on the contrary, China has taken a very strong stand on the whole GMO issue.

Of some of the largest suppliers of soybeans to China, such as Louis Dreyfus, Toepfer, Bunge and Zen-noh Grain, two say that the rumors about a more lenient China were nonsense, according to one cash-connected source.

The source told ODJ that China had actually canceled "a couple of cargoes" of U.S. soybeans recently that were supposed to leave U.S. docks in early March. "They have also been canceling Brazilian business," he reports.

Confirmation of actual cancellation of U.S. shipments was not available and one other source noted that at this point, only shipments out of the Pacific Northwest would be able to arrive in China before March 20, the implementation date for the new GMO policies.

But the unloading of soybean cargoes in China has slowed as imported soybean supplies are now abundant there. "I think China could go as much as 90 days without importing soybeans right now," the cash source told ODJ. "And if you think about it, it makes no sense that they would simplify the policies because their concerns have nothing to

do with GMOs anyway."

More U.S.-China GMO Talks This Week

Another U.S. delegation will arrive in Beijing this week to try to convince China not to interrupt U.S. farm imports with its new rules governing genetically modified foods.

The U.S. team, consisting of USDA, State Department and U.S. Trade Representative officials, will be led by USTR chief agricultural trade negotiator ambassador Allen Johnson.

The U.S. officials are likely to concentrate on getting China to clarify the vague rules it has laid out and shorten the approval process for genetically modified (GM) crops. Under the rules, China is set to implement March 20, it could take up to 270 days for a GM crop variety to be issued a safety certificate as required under the new rules.

Traders told Reuters News Service they hoped the U.S. officials would succeed in urging China to simplify the rules, despite past failures, as the issue was raised by U.S. President George W. Bush with Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji in February. In an apparent rebuff to U.S. requests, Zhu had told Bush in February the rules were in line with global practices.

Editors note: Richard Brock, Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.