North Dakota State University Advising China on Soybeans As China Approves GMO Soybeans

Posted: January 7, 2015 in Society and Culture, Technology and Energy

SEE ALSO:  China Approves Imports of DuPont Pioneer Soybean (GMO)

SEE ALSO:  U.S. Looks To Spread GMO’s to Cuba As Russia Will Build A New Airport There


NDSU scientists advise China’s soy farmers

North Dakota State University soil scientists Dave Franzen and Tom DeSutter recently visited northern China’s soybean production regions, where they advised farmers about how to control water-borne soil erosion. Photo taken Dec. 30, 2014, at NDSU in Fargo

FARGO, N.D. — Soil scientists from North Dakota State University recently traveled to China and consulted with farmers on how to prevent soil erosion in the cradle of world soy production.

Dave Franzen, an Extension Service soil scientist, and Tom DeSutter, a research scientist, toured the so-called “black soil” region of the Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China, where one-sixth of that country’s soybeans are grown. They traveled with farmers Jay Myers of Colfax, N.D., representing the United Soybean Board, and Bob Worth of Lake Benton, Minn., then an American Soybean Association board member.

The trip was sponsored by the U.S. Soybean Export Council. The region the group toured includes what once was a 30-million-acre imperial game preserve. It was plowed  for farming in 1949 and now supplies a sixth of that country’s soybeans. “They plowed most of this by hand, no animals,” Franzen says. “They had footage of Chinese troops, strapped to one-bottom plows.”

According to Franzen, the Chinese have already addressed their wind erosion problems with thousands of miles of tree rows, many of which are 30 years old. The government ordered people to plant them, he says.

Startling water erosion

The Chinese still have startling water erosion problems, Franzen says.

Crop residue is either incorporated or removed, which increases the likelihood of erosion. The Chinese plant soybeans and other crops atop “ridges” built with pulverized soil. The ridge bottoms tend to “channelize the water,” and it runs off and down into valleys. “They’ve been doing it for 5,000 years,” DeSutter says.

The government owns all of the farmland and leases it to individuals with rental titles. The Chinese farms in the area visited by the group are in three primary types: village farms, which are hand-planted and hand-harvested, and where farmers are allocated a sixth-acre each; co-ops of 7,000 acres to 15,000 acres within villages where the government pays for 60 percent of the machinery costs; and government farms that are large-scale, similar to the U.S.

Most of the land is in the village-type farming. “I got a sense of appreciation of how hard the workers were working to manage those lands,” DeSutter says. The land is reminiscent of areas like Fergus Falls, Minn., or Jamestown, N.D.

One 7,500-acre farm they visited was organized as a cooperative where 65 people work full-time, overseen by a Communist party liaison. That farm had about 10 modern corn pickers and a four-wheel drive Case-IH tractor, made in Fargo, N.D. The farmers harvest stalks separately and use them for fuel. “Almost every household had a stack of compressed cornstalks behind it” for fuel, Franzen says.

Vast, sixth-acre fields

Farms have “corn as far as you can see” in vast fields, he says. “But if you look closely, they have different varieties in blocks or strips for individual co-op members, where they share machinery,” he says. The government sets the commodity prices and people take what they get, without complaint. “You don’t want to be different over there,” Franzen says.

Fertilizer application is about double what U.S. farmers apply, DeSutter says. “Even for soybeans, they’ll put down 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre,” he said, while U.S. farmers would use little or none. Nitrogen applications for corn are “twice as high” as what Red River Valley farmers might apply. “Certainly, there is the potential for nutrient loss,” DeSutter says.

Before 2005, the government was working to keep everyone they could on the farm. Since then, the government has been trying to move people off the farms and into the cities to offset a labor shortage.

America and Brazil currently ship a lot of soybeans to China — much of them genetically modified to be resistant to herbicides. The Chinese don’t grow GM crops, and often asked the visitors whether they ate GM soybeans or fed them to families.

“About two-thirds of our soybeans are being exported to China,” Myers says. “A trip like this is mainly about building relationships with their soybean organizations — the farmers and processors — so everything is on good terms when they need to buy soybeans.”



China officially approves imports of Bayer GMO soy variety

Fri Dec 19, 2014

By Tom Polansek

Dec 19 (Reuters) – China has officially approved imports of a genetically modified Bayer CropScience soybean variety after seven years of review, the company said on Friday, raising expectations that approval notices will come soon for other biotech crops.

Bayer received an import certificate from China, the world’s top soybean importer, for its LL55 Liberty Link variety and plans a full commercial U.S. launch of the seed in 2015.

Beijing has been taking longer than in the past to approve new GMO crops amidst growing consumer sentiment against GMO food in China and concerns amongst some government officials about excessive dependence on U.S. food supplies. The delay has cast doubt over the future of seed companies’ heavy investments in research of GMO seeds, which can take up to 10 years and $150 million to develop.

Approval of LL55 soybean imports “is great news for growers,” said Diego Angelo, director of Bayer’s U.S. soybean operations, in a telephone interview. “It’s great news for Bayer.”

China’s acceptance comes too late for U.S. farmers who have already ordered their soybean seeds for next year. However, growers in southern states, where LL55 will be planted, typically wait longer to select their varieties than in the Midwest, Angelo said.

Farmers will probably plant LL55 soybeans on 200,000 to 300,000 acres in the southern United States in 2015, he added. This year, U.S. farmers planted 84.2 million acres of soy.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday said China had approved imports of GMO soybeans developed by Bayer and DuPont Pioneer and shipments of Agrisure Viptera corn, developed by Swiss-based Syngenta AG. However, the companies had not received official notifications.

On Friday, Syngenta and DuPont said they still had not received approval notices.

China is a key market for the $12 billion U.S. agricultural seeds business, and accounted for nearly 60 percent of U.S. soybean exports and 12 percent of corn exports two years ago. Nearly 90 percent of corn in the United States is genetically engineered, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as farmers embrace technology that helps kill weeds and fight pests.

Chinese ports in November 2013 began rejecting U.S. corn imports, saying they were tainted with Viptera, known as MIR 162. The trait is approved for planting in the United States but not for import by China. Commodity traders Cargill Inc and Archer Daniels Midland Co, along with dozens of farmers, have sued Syngenta for damages from the rejections.



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