China to approve further domestic GMO corn, soy crop varieties

File photo of a Chinese cornfield. (Baona/iStock/Getty Images)

Beijing | Reuters — China said on Monday it was set to approve the safety of another genetically modified (GMO) corn variety and a GMO soybean, both produced by Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co. Ltd.

The move comes after China last year approved three domestically designed GMO crops as safe, the first in a decade, in a fresh push toward commercial planting of GMO crops in the world’s top soybean importer and a major corn buyer.

Beijing has never permitted planting of GMO soybean or 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, leading the industry to expect progress toward commercialization in the coming year.

The ministry of agriculture and rural affairs has opened its plan for safety approval for public comment until Feb. 1.

One of the new products, a glufosate and glufosinate-resistant soybean known as DBN9004, has already been approved as safe in Argentina, where Dabeinong is also seeking commercial production.

The other, known as DBN9501, is a corn resistant to the fall armyworm pest, which last year reached China’s cornbelt region.

Dabeinong could not be reached for comment.

Though several further steps must be taken before farmers in China are allowed to plant the crops, the approval is seen as timely given a growing corn deficit in the world’s top grain grower.

“The arrival of GMOs can bring an increase in production efficiency,” said Mao Yifan, analyst at Industrial Securities.

The ministry also said on Monday it had approved two new GMO corn varieties for import, the glyphosate- and insect-resistant MON87411 sold by Bayer’s CropScience unit, and MZIR098, produced by Syngenta.

The two corn varieties have been approved in Canada since 2015 and 2016 respectively.

“We appreciate the approval of an existing product,” said Holger Elfes, a spokesman for Bayer.

“Syngenta Seeds is pleased to receive import approval from China for our innovative corn, which successfully combats corn rootworm, a scourge of farmers,” said Saswato Das, spokesman for Syngenta, a unit of China’s state-owned ChemChina.

— Reporting for Reuters by Dominique Patton and Hallie Gu; additional reporting by John Revill in Zurich. Includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.

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