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Donnelly Presses China on Biotech Traits

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U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa on Tuesday sent a letter to China’s Ambassador to the United States to ask the Chinese government to prioritize the approval of eight biotech traits that have been pending in the Chinese regulatory system for years. The letter comes after the good faith efforts made by U.S. biotechnology companies to address questions and concerns about their products were met with continued delays by the Chinese government. Several of the traits in question were first submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture for approval in 2011. No approvals were granted in 2015. “We are troubled by the fact that the Chinese regulatory system continues to be cumbersome and unpredictable,” Donnelly and Grassley wrote. “Some companies with pending traits were asked for data that had been previously supplied. We ask that the Chinese government and the Ministry of Agriculture prioritize the final decisions for these eight traits.”

Both Donnelly and Grassley pressed for more Chinese action to show their commitment to improving U.S.-China economic relations through agricultural trade.

A copy of the text of Donnelly and Grassley’s letter to the Chinese embassy is below.

The Honorable Cui Tiankai
Ambassador
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States
3505 International Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

As members of the United States Congress, we appreciate the recent and ongoing dialogue between our respective governments to reach common ground on issues spanning the full breadth of the U.S.-China economic relationship. Additionally, we were pleased to see significant joint commitments at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the Strategic Agriculture Innovation Dialogue on regulatory certainty for biotechnology products, which we believe is critical to continuing both U.S. and Chinese investment.

We are seriously concerned, however, that these carefully negotiated commitments are not executed in practice. The Ministry of Agriculture, after issuing no biotechnology approvals in 2015, released a short list of three approvals in January 2016. That list should have included all eleven technologies that have executed their commitments under China’s current regulatory system. Unfortunately, eight of the traits are still awaiting approval from the Ministry of Agriculture.

We are troubled by the fact that the Chinese regulatory system continues to be cumbersome and unpredictable. Some companies with pending traits were asked for data that had been previously supplied. We ask that the Chinese government and the Ministry of Agriculture prioritize the final decisions for these eight traits. This would be a strong gesture of commitment to the assurances made during President Xi’s visit last fall.

We look forward to working with you to ensure agricultural trade between our countries continues unimpeded by regulatory obstacles. We appreciate your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley



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