China set to OK genetically modified maize and soybean crops

Beijing has never permitted planting of GMO varieties but it allows their import for use in animal feed; this move could signal a push for biotech to boost food security

China set to OK genetically modified maize and soybean crops
Natural and genetically modified maize are cultivated in a greenhouse in Beijing. File photo by Reuters.

(ATF) China is set to approve the safety of two more genetically modified organisms (GMO) - a maize variety and a soybean - both produced by Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs published its intention to register the crops on its website, following last year's approval of three domestically designed GMO crops as safe, the first in a decade, in a fresh push towards commercial planting of advanced crops.

Beijing has never permitted planting of GMO soybean or maize (corn) varieties but it permits their import for use in animal feed. The government has said recently, however, that it wants to support biotech breeding to boost food security.

The ministry invited public comment on the proposed approvals, until February 1. One of the new products, a soybean known as DBN9004, has already been approved as safe in Argentina. According to Eugenius, the European GMO database, DBN9004 has tolerance to herbicides that contain glyphosate or glufosinate.

Resistant to insects

The other, DBN9501, is a type of maize resistant to the armyworm, which last year reached China's grain belt. Beijing Dabeinong's patent submission describes a maize plant that is resistant to insects and tolerant to glufosinate-ammonium herbicide.

Beijing Dabeinong announced the approval on its website on Tuesday January 12. "So far, the company's first-generation corn trait products have been approved by biosafety regulations nationwide," the company said.

Though several further steps must be taken before farmers in China are allowed to plant the crops, the approval is seen as progress. "The arrival of GMOs can bring an increase in production efficiency," Mao Yifan, an analyst at Industrial Securities, told Reuters.

With reporting by Reuters

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Agriculture China food GMO Genetically modified organisms Soybean Maize (corn) herbicides