China's quarantine bureau rejects U.S. GMO corn cargo

By Niu Shuping and Tom MilesTue Nov 2, 5:22 am ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – China's quarantine bureau confirmed on Tuesday it had discovered traces of an unapproved genetically modified organism (GMO) in a U.S. corn cargo and had refused it entry into China.

"A genetically-modified element which is not approved by the Agriculture Ministry has been identified in the cargo and according to the relevant State Council regulation, the cargo will be returned," an official with the Shenzhen Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau told Reuters, confirming an earlier Reuters report.

The official declined to identify the buyer of the cargo, but said the unapproved GMO strain was MON89034.

One trading manager at a feed mill in Guangdong said the cargo belonged to COFCO Co. Ltd, which bought on behalf of several feed mills in the province.

The cargo arrived at the port of Chiwan in September and was discharged into silos at ports, but feed mills were not allowed to take the goods, said the manager, who is one of the end-users.

"We have paid COFCO for delivery at port in Guangdong, but now we are not allowed to take the goods," said the manager, who declined to be identified.

China, the world's second largest consumer, has booked the largest volume of U.S. corn in a decade after tight supply drove up domestic prices higher than U.S. prices in the first half of the year.

The official said the cargo was most likely resold to the overseas market. COFCO bought the cargo from a Japanese trading house, Mitsubishi Corp, three trading sources said.

Traders from both companies could not be immediately reached for comment, and both companies have earlier declined to comment on the Reuters story.

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)