A Chinese boy eats corn in Beijing on August 20, 2013. Despite China's reputation for being a country that mainly subsists on rice and noodles, corn is also one of the top grains, or agricultural staples, consumed across the country. UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo
BEIJING, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- China rejected 60,000 tons of U.S. corn because the crops had been genetically modified in violation of regulations, Beijing's quality watchdog said Friday.
Authorities in the southern port city of Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong, found a variety of insect-resistant transgenic corn within more than 60,000 metric tons of maize imported from the United States, a spokesman for China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said.
The agency is in charge of entry-exit commodity inspection and import-export food safety certification and accreditation.
The insect-resistant MIR 162 transgenic corn was developed by Syngenta AG to provide growers with maize hybrids that are resistant to feeding damage caused by moths, butterflies and other lepidopteran insects.
MIR 162 is not authorized by China's agricultural department, spokesman Chen Xitong said.
The agency notified U.S. authorities of the event, seeking Washington to order the responsible U.S. corn exporters to strengthen inspection and quarantine of corn exports to China to conform with Chinese law and regulations, Chen said.
The official Xinhua News Agency, which reported the rejection, did not say which authorities the agency notified or from where the corn came.
Syngenta Corp. in Washington told United Press International MIR 162 corn, which it markets as Agrisure Viptera, was "one of a number of technologies from multiple manufacturers that continues to await approval from Chinese regulatory authorities."
"Lagging importation approvals can cause market disruption for growers and grain traders alike, and can deprive importers of high-quality, readily available grain," the company said in a statement. "The issue has to be addressed at a global level or nations that want to access crops from where technology is legally approved and broadly adopted will continue to face this problem."
The U.S. Commerce Department in Washington did not immediately respond when UPI contacted it by email and phone for a comment on Beijing's action.
Syngenta AG is a global Swiss specialized-chemicals company that also markets pesticides.