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China corn breeders ready for doubling of GMO planting in 2024 -sourcesqrcode

Dec. 25, 2023

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Dec. 25, 2023

Chinese corn breeders are preparing for the planting of more than double the amount of genetically modified corn next year than in 2023, three industry sources said, with Beijing expected to tightly control for a second year the rollout of GMOs.

GMO corn will be allowed on around 10 million mu, or about 670,000 hectares (1.66 million acres), in eight provinces next year, including the northeastern province of Liaoning for the first time, said one of the sources, who was briefed on a proposal discussed at a meeting held by the agriculture ministry last month.

The other two sources, who are familiar with the situation, also said GMO seed developers and breeders are preparing for the planting of around 10 million mu. The mu is a Chinese area measurement equal to about 1/15 of a hectare.

Beijing permitted planting of about 4 million mu, or 270,000 hectares, of GMO corn this year in what it described as trials but has not yet issued any public guidance for 2024.

Despite the increase, the new amount would account for just 1.5% of the almost 44 million hectares expected to be sown with corn this spring.

"It's growing, but in a very controlled, regulated fashion in terms of what you can sell and where you can sell it," said the source, adding that no information was yet available on how the seed would be priced.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs did not respond to a fax seeking comment on the plan.


Its tightly controlled introduction of GMO corn is being closely watched by global suppliers as it could significantly reduce demand for imports if domestic output grows.

Beijing does not allow fully commercial sales of GMO corn seed, even though imports of the GMO grain are permitted.

However, ongoing tension with major corn exporter the United States and, more recently, the war in key grower Ukraine is pushing Beijing to focus more on self-sufficiency, including through future planting of higher-yielding GMO crops.

China has approved the safety of more than a dozen corn "events", or genetic changes, since 2019, including ones developed by Beijing Dabeinong Technology 002385.SZ, Hangzhou Ruifeng, which is backed by Yuan Longping High-Tech Agriculture Co Ltd 000998.SZ and state-owned investment firm SDIC, and China National Seed, now owned by Syngenta Group.

GMO seed produced this year, in addition to seed harvested from last year's trials and currently in storage, could more than meet the 10 million mu target, said the three sources familiar with the matter.

China's northeast is the country's most important corn growing region. Illegal GMO seed has been available in the region for years, according to industry participants and state media, underlining the strong interest from farmers in using the technology.

GMO corn will also be planted in the southwestern region of Guangxi for the first time, one of the sources said.

The final acreage size will be decided by the provinces, which are expected to restrict planting to specific counties, said the sources.

GMO corn was planted this year in Jilin, Yunnan, Hebei, Inner Mongolia and Sichuan provinces. The agriculture ministry has said that this year's trials showed "outstanding" results and demonstrated that the technology was safe.

It is not clear when China will allow full commercialisation of biotech corn and soy. The ministry approved 37 GMO corn varieties and 14 GMO soybean varieties in October but said planting should still comply with a national plan for commercializing biotech breeding.

The slow rollout of the technology is removing the competitive advantage for companies who were first to win safety approvals, added one of the sources.

Source: Reuters


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