Brazil has opened the door to imports of GM corn after a difficult 2015-16 corn crop.
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio) on Oct. 6 approved imports of three varieties of bioengineered corn from the United States, opening the door to the Brazilian market for U.S. corn exports.

The CTNBio approved two GM corn varieties produced by Monsanto Co. and one produced by Syngenta AG. Back in August, Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply (MAPA) asked the CTNBio to allow imports of genetically modified corn from the U.S.

“While imported corn may still be subject to traceability measures given the expectation that some products would only receive approval for use as food and feed and not environmental release, local industry is expected to bring in as much as 1.5 million tonnes in the coming months to meet their feed grain needs,” the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) noted in an Oct. 6 statement.

Brazil has opened the door to imports of GM corn after a difficult 2015-16 corn crop. The country has faced a significant shortfall, with an estimated 16 million tonnes less produced this year than in 2014-15. As a result, Brazil’s exports have been cut in half and the country instead has been importing corn from regional producers such as Argentina and Paraguay. The United States has not been able to fill the demand due to lack of approvals of some biotech products used by U.S. farmers, the USGC said.

The USGC said it has worked closely with biotech companies, Brazilian industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to secure permission for U.S. imports. The agency said it will continue to engage to ensure coming trades are conducted successfully.

Last week, Cary Sifferath, USGC senior director of global programs, and Alfredo Navarro, the Council's consultant in Brazil, traveled to Sao Paulo to meet with key industry organizations and USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) staff in Brazil to assess the situation and provide information on the U.S. corn market.

“The effort to allow access for U.S. imports shows the growing importance of policies to enable trade in the absence of synchronous biotechnology approvals,” the USGC said. “The coming trades between countries that typically compete for corn sales also shows the fluidity and diversity in the global grain market, in which U.S. producers are typically able to cover grain needs from even large corn producers when crops are short. In turn, the United States typically imports a small amount of corn from Brazil each year based on logistical costs and other factors. In 2012-13, following a major drought, the U.S. was a large importer of corn and Brazil’s fourth largest customer.”