China is pushing ahead with the cultivation of genetically modified crops.
Once wary of GM, it has recently issued licences to companies to produce seeds from cereals that have been cultivated from genetically modified plants.
The experimental work has been carried out on the southern island of Hainan, a popular holiday resort due to its tropical climate.
It is also known as China’s “agricultural Silicon Valley” as the crops grown elsewhere in the country are first test grown on the island.
The Yuan Longping High-tech Agriculture company, established in 1999 to produce more productive crop varieties, has been to the forefront of the GM experiments.
It recently was granted a safety certificate to allow its GM corn, developed at its research site in Hainan, to be grown elsewhere in China.
The new variety, likely to be approved as animal feed next year, is resistant to weed killers and the fall army worm, making it a more robust plant than those developed conventionally.
Yuan Longping High-tech Agriculture is also working with German chemical giant BASF on technology to improve rice yields.
Another Chinese company, Beijing Dabeinong Technology, has also recently granted safety certification to produce a corn variety for animal feed.
The Chinese government has been forced to relax its restrictions on GM crops due to growing concerns over food security.
China is a net importer of seeds, and the country purchases wheat and vegetable seeds from the US, Japan, Denmark and elsewhere.
Last year, China imported $450 million worth of crop seeds.
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