Second only to the US, China’s genetically modified technology system ranks top 2 all across the world

Publish time: 19th September, 2016      Source: CCM
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  The 5th Training Class of Genetically Modified Technology for Medias and Journalists in China was hold in Changchun on 5th September, during which, Wan Jianmin, academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), introduced the progress of some major special projects, and he also disclosed, at the same time, that the genetically modified herbicide-resistant soybean and genetically modified insect-resistant corn were the most possible two that would be firstly industrialized in China during the next five years. According to Lin Xiangming, head of Gene Transfer and Bio-safety Intellectual Property Department of Ministry of Agriculture, China is currently promoting the transfer from the qualitative identification to quantitative identification on genetically modified food.



  Source: Bing


  Generally speaking, according to Wan, China now ranks the second around the world in terms of genetically modified technology system (including technology and breeding), next to that in the US while superior than that in Japan, Germany, and the UK.


  According to the National Scientific and Technological Innovation Project of the 13th Five-Year Plan issued by the State Council on 8th August, 2016, we have to promote the industrialization of the newly developed insect-resistant cotton, insect-resistant corn, and herbicide-resistant soybean during the period of the 13th Five-Year Plan. The Training Class, with the theme of "understanding China's genetically modified corn', aimed to make media and public to know more about the demand and ability of industrialization of China's genetically modified products through discussion and communication.


  Progress has achieved on the Major Special Projects


  China established "Major Special Project for GM Products' in 2008, with 15 years of planned due time and RMB 24 billion of expenditure (RMB 12 billion of which would come from the federal government).


  During the meeting, Wan disclosed the progress of the major special projects in detail. Both the animals and plants have been involved in, and more specifically, rice, wheat, corn, soybean, cotton, pig, cattle and sheep were the emphases of the project. In the field of the genetically modified agriculture about which people concerned most, currently there are 124 breeds have been in examine and 6 safety certificates were issued, including genetically modified insect-resistant cotton, genetically modified-resistant rice, genetically modified phytase corn and genetically modified papaya.


  All of the 124 certified varieties were genetically modified insect-resistant cotton. In 2008 to 2015, the genetically modified cotton was popularized and accumulatively cultivated in about 26.66 million ha, taken up 95% of the domestic market share, reduced 400 thousand tonnes of pesticide, and created economic value of RMB45 billion.


  According to Wan, there have already developed many new varieties of genetically modified cotton. For example, greensickness-resistant cotton that has developed recently and so does quality-improved genetically modified cotton. In the future, China would also be capable of producing the cotton that as high-quality as that of the US and Australia and thus would get rid of the dependence on import.


  According to Safety Regulations of Agricultural Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), there should be three phases in agricultural GMOs test: pilot experiment, environmental release, and production experiment. That means, only if the production experiment has passed, can it possible to get a safety certificate, after receiving the safety certificate, it is time to go through the variety certification, and the industrialization can be achieved after all those procedures have competed step by step. In China, the genetically modified cotton and pawpaw have already been industrialized and commercialized in 1990s, while the genetically modified insect-resistant rice and genetically modified phytase corn have not industrialized yet though the safety certificates have already received. According to the National Scientific and Technological Innovation Project, more varieties would gradually get the safety certificates and then put into industrialization.


  On the meeting, when the journalist asked which variety is the most possible one to be applied as a breach to achieve the commercialization in the future, Wan answered that genetically modified herbicide-resistant soybean and insect-resistant corn would be the mostly possible two to be approved to put into commercialized cultivation, as these two varieties were in huge demand and have already got relatively mature technology and international competitiveness.


  China's Research Progress on GMOs: Global Leader of Rice, Enthusiastic Follower of the other Crops


  Some conferees wondered whether China got the core technology and patent in terms of GMOs. According to Wan, China has already cloned 3,160 genes, among which 137 had important breeding value. That is to say, China has got its own gene patents, and the situation that the US and European countries may monopolize the gene patents has greatly changed.


  China advanced in the field of rice functional genomics and gene cloning research, among 16 published NCS thesis from 2014 to 2015, 11 of which were written by Chinese scientists. The researches on the functional gene of corn, wheat, soybean, and cotton have also been in the forefront of the world. 


  Generally speaking, China ranked the second in terms of genetically modified technology system, next to than in the US but superior than that in Japan, Germany, and the UK.


  Major special projects also involved some supporting work of detecting techniques, safety evaluation, and various technical standards and regulation.


  However, there are several weak links in China's genetically modified work, among which the most prominent part were the incapability of intellectual property protection and the huge gap between China and the US in terms of the amount of important gene patents. Moreover, the low level of industrialization caused the divergence between the research founding and market demand.




  Promoting Revise of "GMOs Labeling System'


  Currently, China carried out qualitative identification, which means as long as there's genetically modified ingredient in the food, there would be a GMOs label to adhere to. However, many countries and areas implemented quantitative identification, that is to say, only if the genetically modified ingredients in the food have achieved a certain amount, there's a need to label, for example, the standard of Japan and Taiwan was 5%, South Korea was 3%, and European Union was 0.9%.


  From Lin Xiangmin's point of view, it is unreasonable and unscientific to implement the qualitative identification. Administration of Agriculture has all the way negotiated and coordinated with the Office of Legislative Affairs of the State Council and other departments, so as to promote the revise on the GMOs labeling system.


  According to Lin, trivial of genetically modified materials spread around from research units, including universities, research and development institution, and some enterprises. The difficulty of the supervision is that China has hundreds of research units, while in the US, there were only six enterprises have been approved to work on the breeding of GMOs. Moreover, in China, there were also many people illegally purchase genetically modified seeds abroad for breeding test.


  The reasons for the blow on the illegal genetically modified crops cultivation not only concerned the safety issues, but involved the violation to the Seed Law, Patent Law, and Safety Regulations of Agricultural Genetically Modified Organisms.


  Superiority of China's Industrialization lies in Localization


  According to Zhang Shiping, scientist of agricultural biotechnologies, China's seeds enterprises got very obvious disadvantages in terms of industrial layout and funding compared with international transnational corporations. For example, the cost budgeting of Syngenta used to amount to RMB20 million per day, while the general budget of major special project of GMOs in China were only RMB20 billion in total for 15 years, which including the supporting funds from the federal and local government.


  However, China has also got its own advantages, according to Zhang, we can localize the genetically modified crops for China's domestic market, for example, the corns that resist asiatic corn borer and oriental armyworm, and thus our products can rapidly adapt China's agricultural environment.


  According to Zhang, it may be better for China's enterprises to focus on researching and developing a few of advantaged industries, for example, the corn and soybean. And China would also get its own super agricultural enterprises when we're in an environment with open policies and social support.



  *The article is edited and translated by CCM. The original one comes from



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