Origin Agritech Ltd. (NASDAQ: SEED) (the "Company" or "Origin"), an agriculture technology and rural e-commerce company, today updates the progress of biotech research programs and strategies for the commercialization of GMO corn seeds and traits.
As the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MOA) has recently issued two more biosafety certificates for biotechnology corn traits, we believe it is now more widely expected that the Chinese authorities will approve the planting and commercialization of biotech corn seed in China. As the leading corn seed biotechnology developer, Origin has been preparing for the commercialization of its technology for many years and has a rich pipeline to meet the potential demand for corn seed biotechnologies.
Glyphosate(G2) tolerance and insect resistance (Bt) corn: With the cooperation program between Origin and China Academy of Agriculture Science (CAAS), Origin has developed a double stacked insect resistance and glyphosate tolerance corn with a proprietary new Cry1Ah Bt gene for insect resistance and a proprietary new G2 gene for glyphosate tolerance. This double-stacked trait has completed several years of production test and is now in the final phase of biosafety certificate review from Chinese MOA. This double stacked trait has also been integrated into the Company's elite corn hybrids.
Origin has commercial cooperation programs with several multinational and local seed producers, including DuPont Pioneer and KWS. These programs are progressing very well, and the related technical work, including integration of Origin's traits into their corn hybrids, mostly has been completed.
Furthermore, the next generation of insect resistance traits involving new Bt genes has been evaluated. New double-stacked and triple-stacked traits have been under intermediate testing. These traits are expected to expand the insecticidal spectrum and durability.
Phytase: The Company's phytase trait is the first biotechnology corn trait receiving the biosafety certificate from the MOA in 2009. Four commercial hybrids with phytase traits have completed a number of variety production tests. These varieties with phytase traits have been submitted to the Chinese MOA to obtain variety safety certificates.
Origin continues to work with CAAS in developing next generation GMO genes to expand its GMO trait pipeline. Origin also works closely with CAAS for the biosafety certificate applications and commercialization of GMO corn seeds in China.
As announced previously, the Company is working with Beijing Changping Technology Innodevelop Group (BC-TID) to establish a joint venture to focus on the commercialization of genetically modified (GM) corn seed technologies. At this point, BC-TID has deposited RMB15 million (US$2.1 million) in an escrow account and the Company is completing the final steps of preparatory work so that BC-TID can inject the first tranche of cash investment as soon as possible.
In summary, the issuance of the biosafety certificate for two corn seed traits last month is a strong indication that the Chinese MOA is moving towards approving the commercialization and planting of GM corn seeds in China. The Company's double-stacked corn traits of glyphosate tolerance and insect resistance is now in the final phase of biosafety certificate review by the Chinese MOA. Further cooperation with CAAS and the funding from BC-TID through the joint venture could provide the Company strong technical and financial support. Origin is prepared to take advantage of the opportunities in the field of agriculture biotechnology.