Brazilian corn exports to China require an agreement about genetic modified grains before effectively beginning, local corn growers association Abramilho said on Wednesday (May 25) as most Brazil's corn production is transgenic.
Abramilho's comments come in the wake of China's customs authority announcing an agreement with Brazilian authorities regarding a protocol to allow imports of Brazilian corn.
The Chinese are keen to sign a "biotechnology equivalence" agreement for transgenic corn to allow trade with Brazil, according to Glauber Silveira, Abramilho's executive director.
This is key as China is rumored to have already made advance purchases of the Brazilian corn for shipment in September, he said.
Brazil plants larges swathes of land with GM soybeans and corn.
Genetically modified corn has accounted for about 90 per cent of the total corn area in Brazil since the 2015/2016 season, according to academic research.
Brazil is poised to harvest a record corn crop in 2021/2022, meaning the country has a surplus to export around 30 million tonnes in the current cycle to destinations including China, Abramilho said.
Beijing and Brasilia signed a protocol of phytosanitary requirements for exporting corn from Brazil to China in 2014 but little trade has happened due to complex inspection requirements.
The revised agreement, concluded during high-level talks on Monday, is expected to be signed in coming weeks, opening the way to more substantial trade.
"Now the second step is the approval of biotechnologies, which needs to be more agile," Silveira said. China already imports GMO soy from Brazil and has approved transgenic technologies from other origins.
Even so, a biotechnology equivalence agreement related to corn is required, he said.
Anec, a Brazilian association that represents cereal exporters, anticipated it would take about three months for Brazil's government to revise phytosanitary requirements for exporting corn to China so that shipments could begin.