context: Downplaying the special status of GMO (genetically modified organisms), the new regulations incorporate GMO variety and production review with that of common varieties and streamline the admin process. Once a GM variety passes its biosafety assessment, it will be easier to obtain approval for commercialisation. Forerunners in this field, who have already received their biosafety certificates, will benefit from the regulatory leap forward.

MARA (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs) made suggested adjustments to a series of seed regulations simultaneously, focusing on GMO (genetically modified organism) registration, production licensing and biosafety assessment. The updates covered

  • main crop variety approval measures, with added items
    • allowing GM crop varieties to apply to the National Ag Crop Variety Review Committee
    • clarifying application materials for GMOs
    • requiring institutes to conduct GM crop experiments in line with biosafety measures
    • stipulating that if the GM variety is roughly the same as an approved receptor variety apart from the target trait, the GM variety only need to go through a streamlined 1-year field production test; otherwise, it should go through a 2-year regional test and a 1-year field production test, as well as distinctness, uniformity and stability tests
    • clarifying the content of the approval announcement for GM varieties, including the name of the R&D institute, name of the variety, GMO biosafety certificate and target traits
  • management measures for crop seed production licensing, with added items
    • clarifying the qualifications of companies applying for GM seed production licenses
    • stipulating the production license for GM seed should be reviewed by local ag departments and issued by MARA
    • clarifying the period of validity of a GM license, which should not surpass the period stated on its biosafety certificate
  • management measures for GMO biosafety assessment
    • encouraging GMO research institutes to establish or share experimental fields
    • revising application details, including simplifying the review procedure for hybrid varieties based on GM varieties with biosafety certificates