UPDATE 1-China approves Monsanto GMO soybean variety for import

Wed Feb 3, 2016 1:37pm EST
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(Adds details on seed sales in United States and Canada, other background)

CHICAGO Feb 3 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co said on Wednesday it received import approval from China for its new genetically modified Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and that it will begin selling the seeds in the United States and Canada.

China, the world's biggest soybean importer, does not allow imports of new genetically modified crops until they are approved by government regulators.

The U.S. seed and agrochemical company's next-generation soybean variety is engineered to tolerate applications of glyphosate and dicamba herbicides amid a growing problem of glyphosate-resistant weeds in North America.

Dicamba use is allowed in Canada, but not yet approved in the United States, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still reviewing the chemical, Monsanto said.

Monsanto said it is offering discounts to U.S. farmers buying Roundup Ready 2 Xtend seeds in case the regulatory approval does not arrive in time for the 2016 growing season.

The company is aiming for 3 million acres planted in the upcoming season and expects the genetic technology to be planted to two-thirds of U.S. soybean acres by 2019. The company also licenses its GMO properties to other seed companies.

Monsanto shares were up 1 percent at $88.19 in early afternoon.

(Reporting by Karl Plume; Editing by Matthew Lewis)