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Engaging China on Ag Innovation

June 7, 2016
Agricultural biotechnology is an important tool that can empower nations – big and small – to modernize their production agriculture systems.

As part of today’s Food and Agriculture programming at the BIO International Convention, a panel of experts looked at the question:  How will the economic and political landscapes in the United States and China affect agricultural innovation?

In recent years, we have undoubtedly struggled with new challenges in agricultural trade with China, said Matthew O'Mara, BIO’s Managing Director of International Affairs, who also served as moderator of today’s panel.  “But over the long term we’ve seen tremendous growth and our relationship has been a huge success,” said O’Mara.  “There is no way to deny the impact China has on ag trade – especially in terms of U.S. exports.”

Panelists discussed the history of the U.S.-China relationship and examined new issues and their potential impacts on the development and commercialization of both today’s and tomorrow’s agricultural products.

“China is the largest customer for U.S. agriculture.  But we need to recognize that the customer is King and sometimes they have their own process,” said panelist Frank Terhorst (Global Head of Seeds, Bayer CropScience).  “China represents a fantastic opportunity for us, but we must expect challenges along the way.”

chinapicPanelist ChristineVick (Senior Advisor, Cohen Group) has been engaged in international trade issues with China since traveling there in the 1970s with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.  Since that time, Vick has assisted a number of multinational corporations in achieving their business interests in China.

“Our relationship with China has always been one based on respect,” said Vick, and she urged continued patience with China’s approval process for ag biotech products.

The panel discussion “Engaging China” followed keynote remarks by Ambassador Darci Vetter, Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.  Ambassador Vetter touched on China’s approval process in her remarks.

“Lack of transparency and predictability has led to some recent trade disruptions with China,” said Vetter.  “But it is dependent on us to foster a cooperative attitude with China moving forward.”

Ultimately, sustainably meeting the challenges of global food security is important not only for China, but for all countries, and the future will rely on the promises of ag innovation.