China paves way for domestic GMO cultivation with new approvals

30 Dec 2019 | Johnny Huang

A Chinese government body has approved safety certificates for 203 new Genetically Modified (GM) crops for both domestic planting and import purposes, paving the way for wider adoption in the country, according to official documents released on Monday.

China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs disclosed three separate lists of newly approved GM crops ranging from soybean and corn to cotton and papaya, among which 201 of them were domestically developed and will be suitable for planting.

“It might be possible that China will open up domestic planting of GM soybeans in the near future,” one market source said regarding the lists.

"[This is] a signal the country turned the page and open the door to boosting crop production. Rather than become dependent on international research and GMO seed varieties, they spent billion of USD in research over years," said Terry Reilly from brokerage Futures International in a report.

China has maintained tight restrictions on the use of GM crops in domestic planting in the past, although it has been more willing to import large volumes of GM crops including soybean, corn, and rapeseed.

Domestically produced soybeans, corn, and rapeseeds in China were said to be all non-GM.

Two of the newly approved crops were developed in the US and are permitted for import: one soybean and the other for papaya.

The ministry also renewed safety certificates for 10 existing GM crops for import, including soybean, corn, rapeseed, cotton, papaya and beetroot.

The newly approved certificates will be valid for 3-5 years depending on the crop type.

China imports around 88 million mt of GM soybeans annually from producers including Brazil and the US and buys about 4 million mt of GM rapeseed a year, largely from Canada.