I read with interest the fact that China seems to be paving the way for the production of genetically modified (GM) crops.
The move follows similar decisions in many other countries in recent months to allow the cultivation of specific GM crops.
In China, the National Crop Variety Approval Committee has introduced two standards that seem to clear the way for cultivating GM crops.
The two steps include a 'safety certificate' and a 'variety approval'. These are needed to allow crops to be commercially cultivated.
It seems that a number of GM maize and soya bean varieties have already received the safety certificate since 2019, but they did not have a variety approval.
Now the production of GM crops seems set to be a real possibility in China.
As is the case in the EU, China imports GM maize and soya beans, but it prohibited domestic cultivation up to now.
The move forms part of that country's efforts to become self-sufficient in as many food types as possible. The change in regulations would potentially lead to an improvement in yields.
This is aligned with China’s stated ambition to become self-sufficient in essential grains and oilseeds in the coming years.
It is possible that the move will bring yield improvement, which will bring it closer to self-sufficiency.
If internal production is increased, China’s imports of maize and soya beans could decrease considerably in the coming years
China also sees this move as possibly having additional benefits through reduced insecticide use, enabling more environmentally friendly tillage practices, as well as yield improvement.
And if internal production is increased, China’s imports of maize and soya beans could decrease considerably in the coming years.
It is expected that it will take a few years to happen, as widespread planting of GM crops will take some time.
China has also made considerable progress in the gene-editing world and together these two tools could impact significantly on its production capability in future years.