News last update:6 Aug 2012

China GMO corn hits policy wall

A genetically modified (GM) phytase corn variety, intended for animal feed, which was given a safety approval in late 2009, is now caught up in China's policy system.

The approval gained in 2009 means the corn is safe to use as animal feed. But the strain also needs clearance as a new seed type under Chinese rules that apply to GMO and non-GMO alike.

According to Chen Rumei, a researcher with the Biotechnology Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and a member of the team that developed phytase corn, because the corn is partly used for food it doesn’t fall in with the regulations. There is no regulation covering corn seed intended exclusively for animal feed production.
A seed’s approval depends on a seed's ability to improve yields by at least 3%, or in some areas up to 8%. The phytase corn was designed to solve an environmental problem rather than for higher yields. It helps pigs digest more phosphorous, enhancing growth and reducing pollution from animal waste by 30%, said Chen. China is the world's largest pig breeder.

According to Chen  it could take years before it can be planted.

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