China’s agriculture ministry said Monday it plans to grant biosafety certificates to two domestically produced, genetically modified (GM) corn varieties and one soybean variety, the first time in 10 years that the country has issued such certificates to staple food grains.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) said it intends to issue the certificates to an insect- and weed killer-resistant corn strain known as DBN9936, which is produced by Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group, and a similar variety, called “double-stacked 12-5,” co-developed by Hangzhou Ruifeng Biotech and Zhejiang University.
The weed killer-resistant SHZD32-01 soybean, developed by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, will also become China’s first GM soybean crop to obtain the biosafety certificate, as long as the plan passes unscathed through a 15-day period of public consultation.
The decision to issue the certificates to the different crops, hints that Beijing is moving ahead with plans to commercialize GM crops. The country has plowed vast sums of money into GM research and awarded biosafety certificates to several corn and rice varieties in 2009, but has avoided a push to commercialize them amid safety concerns from consumers.
Also on Monday, MARA approved a new variety of U.S.-developed GM soybeans for import, a step that could be a boon in upcoming trade negotiations with Washington.
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