China has approved two new GM crops for import after pledging last month to speed up a review of eight biotech products which had been pending for four years as part of a trade deal with the USA.

The country approved Monsanto's Vistive Gold soyabeans and Dow Chemical Co’s next-generation Enlist corn variety on 14 June, Reuters reported.

The Ministry of Agriculture also renewed import approvals for 14 other GM varieties for three years until 2020, including Syngenta's MIR162 Agrisure Viptera corn, a Monsanto sugar beet and three Bayer rapeseed products, the report said.

While China does not allow GM crop cultivation for food, it does permit imports of GM products, such as soyabeans, for use in animal feed.

According to Reuters, it took around six years to win import approval for a new GM crop variety in China compared with under three in other major markets.

Dow said its Enlist corn variety would be commercially available in Canada and the USA for the 2018 growing season.

The Enlist platform was Dow’s largest-ever product launch and key to reaching its forecast for boosting seed sales by US$600M by 2020, Reuters said.

It includes corn, cotton and soyabeans engineered for resistance to Dow’s Enlist Duo companion herbicide.

“Dow AgroSciences – a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company – is also ready for full commercialisation of Enlist soybeans and Enlist E3 soybeans and is considering options for the 2018 season as it awaits final import approvals,” the company said.

The soyabean varieties were still being reviewed by officials in China and the EU, Reuters said.

* Dow Chemical Company and DuPont announced on 15 June that the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice had approved their US$130bn merger on condition they sell certain crop protection products and other assets.

These include DuPont’s Finesse herbicide for winter wheat and Rynaxypyr insecticides, and Dow’s US acid copolymers and ionomers business.

The two companies had already received merger approvals from Brazil, China and the EU and were awaiting clearances from just a handful of countries including Canada and Mexico, Reuters said.

The merger, first announced in December 2015, is expected to close in August, with intended spin-offs into three separate companies occurring within 18 months of closing.