context: With progress on biosafety certification of GM crops, commercialisation may be closer. The market is awaiting a sign of further loosening restrictions on planting GM crops at home. Imported GM crops, mainly soybeans and corn, are still subject to strict regulations, limiting them to feed processing.

MARA (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs) approved and published biosafety certificates for a batch of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) for import and domestic production and applications, with a valid period of five years, on 23 Jun 2020. The list covers

  • 8 GM varieties for import, including
    • herbicide-tolerant soybean DBN-Ø9ØØ4-6, developed by Beijing Dabeinong Biotechnology Co Ltd, cultivated in Argentine
    • insect-resistant soybean MON87751 by Monsanto Far East Ltd
    • herbicide-tolerant corn by Dow AgroSciences
  • 117 GM organisms for domestic production applications, including
    • 102 GM cotton varieties
    • animal vaccines and interferon

DBN-Ø9ØØ4-6 herbicide-tolerant soybean, developed by Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group, was granted safety approval by the Argentinian authorities in February 2019. With import approval from China, the crop can now be marketed for production in Argentina. The policy movement opens a new channel for domestic seed companies to build global production bases, comments Zhang Xin 张鑫 CITIC Agriculture analyst.

Another 71 GM plant varieties proposed to be granted biosafety certificates by MARA are now also published for public consultation. The proposed varieties cover

  • 69 GM cotton species
  • GM corn (DBN9858) developed by Beijing Dabeinong Biotechnology Co Ltd
  • GM soybean (Zhonghuang 6106) developed by China Academy of Agricultural Sciences Crop Sciences Institute

Corn DBN9858 is a necessary partner for the previously approved herbicide-tolerant DBN9936. This is a step towards the commercialisation of GM crops, says Zhang.