US biotech giant Monsanto has said it has received final safety certificates from the Chinese government for the import of grain from biotech crops.

In 2002, China issued new regulations requiring safety certificates for imported grain derived from biotech crops.

“China is a very important market for soybeans where imports have continued under an interim process for the past two years. Issuance of these final safety certificates will allow for a more predictable process for traders and continued trade of Roundup Ready soybeans,” Monsanto said.

Jerry Hjelle, Monsanto’s vice president of regulatory affairs, said Monsanto had received safety certificates for the import of five commercial products in soybeans, corn, and cotton. The company hopes to receive a final decision on other products, including Roundup Ready canola and a second version of Roundup Ready corn, from the Chinese authorities in the near future.

US agriculture secretary Ann Veneman and US trade representative Robert Zoellick welcomed the announcement.

“These biotech crop approvals are a significant development that should assure continued US access to this important market,” a statement by Veneman and Zoellick said.

“China is the top foreign customer for US soybeans and cotton. For the first five months of the current marketing year, US soybean sales to China reached 8.3 million metric tons, more than a third of total US soybean sales to all export destinations,” the statement said.