China approves GMO corn, soybeans

China aims to cut reliance on imports for livestock feed
calendar icon 27 December 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

China has approved a first batch of seed companies to breed and sell genetically modified corn and soybean seeds, paving the way for commercial planting of GMO grains in a move that could cut its reliance on imports from the US and Brazil, reported Reuters.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in a notice dated Dec. 25 issued licenses to 26 local companies to produce, distribute and sell the GMO seeds in certain provinces.

The companies named include Beijing Dabeinong Technology , subsidiaries of Yuan Long Ping High-Tech Agriculture, and China National Seed, now owned by Syngenta Group.

Other licensed companies include those operating in the major grain-producing provinces of Hebei, Liaoning, Jilin and Inner Mongolia.

This is China's first batch of companies to receive seed production and operation licences for GMO corn and soybeans, the GLOCON Agritech Co-Innovation Institute said in a note.

Though cautious about GMO technology, Beijing has been slowly moving to open up the market. It has approved more than a dozen genetic changes since 2019.

The world's biggest buyer of soybeans and corn wants to reduce its reliance on imports amounting to more than 100 million metric tons a year to feed itslivestock.

Commercial planting of GMO varieties will boost yields and could significantly lower future purchases from the United States and Brazil.

The share prices of Dabeinong and Yuan Long Ping opened 3% and 2% higher respectively at the opening bell on Wednesday in their first trading since the announcement, then gave up some of the gains.

Three industry sources told Reuters this month that Chinese corn breeders are preparing for the planting of about 670,000 hectares of GMO corn in eight provinces next year, more than double the amount planted in 2023.

But Beijing is still expected to tightly control the rollout of GMOs.

Large-scale trials of GMO soy and corn were carried out this year, which the agriculture ministry said showed "outstanding" results and that the technology was safe and essential.

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