WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), both members of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee, of which Stabenow serves as ranking member, today led a bipartisan group of 42 senators in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to raise directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping the concerns of U.S. stakeholders regarding agricultural biotech approval delays by China. This week, President Xi will travel to Washington, D.C., for his first official state visit with President Obama.
Tomorrow, the U.S. will host China in the inaugural U.S.-China Strategic Agricultural Innovation Dialogue (SAID), during which it’s expected agricultural biotech issues will be discussed.
“To reinvigorate last year’s progress, we ask that you seek a commitment from President Xi to move forward with the queue of biotechnology products, including those awaiting final import approvals,” the senators wrote. “In addition, we ask that you reengage President Xi on the value of elevating the agricultural innovation dialogue via the SAID so that our countries can continue to address mutual food security, environmental and rural economic policy challenges.”
Stakeholder groups from across the country, including Farm Bureaus, Corn Growers Associations, and Soybean Associations, among others, wrote President Obama separately earlier this month about the need for “continued engagement … on agricultural innovation and trade.” Their letter can be found here.
Joining Thune and Stabenow on the letter were U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Christopher Coons (R-Del.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), David Vitter (R-La.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Full text of the letter can be found below:
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We appreciate your administration’s recent initiative to focus on the U.S.-China dialogue regarding agriculture, and we request that you prioritize biotech approvals with President Xi Jinping during his official visit this month. Developing good public policy that promotes innovation and trade will better position our nations to meet critical food security, environmental and rural economic policy objectives.
Last year in Beijing, the U.S. and China established a foundation on which to build a robust, long-term exchange of ideas related to agricultural innovation, including the use of biotechnology in food crops. We were pleased with the creation of the Strategic Agricultural Innovation Dialogue (SAID), which we believe can be an excellent forum for the U.S. and China to advance common agricultural objectives by ensuring an ongoing commitment to transparency, open communication, and science-based regulatory decision-making.
While we applaud the creation of the SAID and appreciate China’s efforts in 2014 to approve three delayed biotechnology-derived crops, we are concerned that forward momentum has not continued. It is our understanding that there is a growing queue of biotechnology-derived crops under review within China’s Ministry of Agriculture, creating additional regulatory uncertainty, and undermining commitments made last year to bolster science-based agricultural innovation and trade.
To reinvigorate last year’s progress, we ask that you seek a commitment from President Xi to move forward with the queue of biotechnology products, including those awaiting final import approvals. In addition, we ask that you reengage President Xi on the value of elevating the agricultural innovation dialogue via the SAID so that our countries can continue to address mutual food security, environmental and rural economic policy challenges.