Will China approve new canola traits during Trudeau's visit?


The Chinese government could move forward on allowing imports of three canola traits that have been awaiting Chinese approval for five years during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit this week, according to a report from Global News.

However, some canola seed industry stakeholders are skeptical that full approvals will be announced in the next few days.

The Canola Council of Canada is not confirming the report, but the council is hoping to have more information to share later in the week, possibly as soon as Tuesday. Council president Jim Everson is in Beijing for Trudeau’s four-day visit.

The Canadian trade mission follows exploratory talks looking at the possibility of a bilateral trade agreement between Canada and China — a deal that could potentially address the unpredictable process for new trait approvals.


The following new canola traits have been approved to be grown in Canada since 2012, but have not been sold to farmers while awaiting Chinese import approval:

  • TruFlex — a Monsanto trait allowing higher concentrations and a wider timing window with a higher rate of glyphosate.  To get a sense of how China has delayed the introduction of new technology, when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency approved TruFlex canola in 2012, Monsanto anticipated introducing it to the market in 2014.
  • Optimum Gly — Pioneer Hi-Bred’s proprietary glyphosate-tolerant canola to compete with TruFlex — also wider window and higher rate of glyphosate.
  • Rf3 — Glufosinate-tolerant single gene trait developed by Bayer CropScience that will be acquired by BASF if the Bayer/Monsanto deal closes (likely as late as the second quarter of 2018.) Current Bayer InVigor hybrids involve two traits that are both approved in China, but the new single trait that is awaiting the thumbs up is not.

There have been rumours in the past that all three traits have been close to approval, but the lack of transparent timelines for Chinese approval has frustrated the trait developers.

Countries will often have some announcements planned prior to these types of meetings.

When our team posed questions on the probability of approval to some of the Canadian canola seed companies and trait developers, their responses ranged from doubtful to cautiously optimistic that an announcement will be made this week.

Although the trait developers have been waiting for a long period of time, it appears a sudden announcement this week will catch the companies off-guard.  The earliest commercial release would likely be for the 2019 seeding season.

China has grown to be the second largest export market for Canadian canola, behind only the United States (which imports more meal and oil). China imported 4.8 million tonnes of Canadian canola in 2016, including 3.5 million tonnes of seed, 600 thousand tonnes of oil and 660 thousand tonnes of meal, worth $2.7 billion.

Related: Trade deal with China holds huge potential for canola

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