China’s middle class is growing fast, as is its demand for U.S. soy.

But its approvals of soybean varieties improved through the use of biotechnology have not come as quickly, which could pose a significant challenge for U.S. soybean farmers.

United Soybean Board (USB) Chairman Jim Stillman and USB Secretary Lewis Bainbridge recently joined other farmer-leaders in discussions with Chinese decision makers about biotech acceptance.

“Biotechnology helps U.S. soybean farmers produce a reliable supply of high-quality soy meal to use as feed for China’s poultry and livestock,” says Bainbridge, a soybean farmer from Ethan, S.D. “We brought up the apparent delay in the approval process because we want to help make it less of an issue in the future.”

China is U.S. soy’s largest international customer, importing 849 million bushels of whole U.S. soybeans in the most recent marketing year. There are currently 12 soybean and corn traits awaiting approval in China, many of which have already gained approval in other countries. It’s been 17 months since China approved a new variety.

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The slow approval process could hinder U.S. soybean farmers’ ability to sell their crops in the global marketplace and could challenge the market development of new varieties

“We spoke with the Chinese officials about the new varieties we have in the pipeline,” says Bainbridge. “We hope they don’t meet the same resistance.”

The checkoff will continue to work to increase biotech acceptance in China to help protect U.S. soybean farmers’ access to global markets.

For more from the United Soybean Board, see

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