Late last week there was an important trade announcement that will certainly impact the U.S. agriculture industry.  The Trump Administration 100 Day Action Plan of the U.S. China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue was released announcing China will begin the process of allowing U.S. Beef imports as well as committing to speed up their regulatory approvals for biotechnology traits.

Both announcements are good news for U.S. Agriculture.  China, which accounts for about half of U.S. Soybean exports or 1/3 of U.S. Soybean Crop, is the largest importer of U.S. Soybeans.  Without the import approvals from China many new biotechnology traits are left in regulatory limbo.  Currently there are 4 soybean, 2 corn and I cotton biotech traits awaiting China import approvals.  One of these traits is the Enlist Weed Control System from Dow AgroSciences.  The Enlist trait will allow growers to spray a new formulation of 2,4-D over the top of corn, soybeans, and cotton.  With the increase of glyphosate resistant weeds, this trait offers a new solution to growers battling weed resistance.

Having worked for Dow AgroSciences before starting my own business, I am quite familiar with this trait.  Here is a little background on the history of the Enlist trait.   In 2009-2010 DAS submitted regulatory approval to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the trait and chemistry respectively.  It is important to note that the USDA controls the biotechnology approval process for new biotechnology traits, while the EPA controls the approval process for new herbicides.

Prior to the previous U.S, Administration, the regulatory approval process for new trait and chemistries was 180 days or 6 months give or take a month or two.  The USDA approval process for the Enlist trait took almost 6 years to receive approval which finally occurred in September of 2014. The same can be said for other traits submitted during that same time period.  It’s unfortunate that our regulatory process in the U.S. has hindered the launch of new cutting-edge technologies in a timely fashion.

To further exacerbate the approval process, the need to navigate the China & European Union regulatory process mired with delays has been equally disappointing.  Enlist, which received final USDA approval in September 2014, did not receive EU approval until 2 years later in September 2016.  To date China approval is still pending.  I am hopeful that with a new Administration in the White House, the USDA & EPA approval process will get back to the good old days when the voice of reason and sound scientific research prevailed.  If you missed the announcement click the link below.

Image courtesy of dan at

References               “The Footprint of China Demand for U.S. Soybean”.

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