Soybean: An Important Crop for Future

As nation strives for greater independence and food security, China has recently established clearer regulations for the approval of genetically edited and genetically modified crops.

Soybean: An Important Crop for Future

China has given the go-ahead for its first gene-edited crop. With a focus on food security, the country is cautiously embracing science to increase agriculture production.

The privately held Shandong Shunfeng Biotechnology Company created the crop, a soybean. It has two altered genes that raise the amount of the plant’s beneficial fatty acid, oleic acid. For a period of five years beginning in April 2023, the crop’s safety was approved.

A company representative who spoke with Reuters said the company is also working on other gene-edited crops, such as lettuce high in vitamin C and rice, wheat and maize with higher yields. Before farmers can use it, however, more procedures must be completed, such as the approval of seed varieties containing the modified genes.

As the nation strives for greater independence and food security, China has recently established clearer regulations for the approval of genetically edited and genetically modified crops. China’s leadership declared in late 2020 that the nation needed to use science and technology to advance its seed industry.

New guidelines for gene-edited crops came into effect in January 2022, reducing the time needed for approval to just one or two years. New rules that clarified and streamlined the procedure for approving genetically modified crops also came into effect in late 2021.

Rules were updated to better reflect other markets, like America. Genetically modified crops add new genes, whereas gene-edited crops alter the existing genes of crop.

Since 2019, China has approved the safety of three soybean varieties and 16 different maize strains. China also authorised the import of eight foreign genetically modified crops in January of this year.

After a ten-year wait, genetically modified lucerne can now be imported. A plant used as livestock feed is called lucerne, also referred to as lucerne.

President Xi Jinping of China has expressed a growing amount of support for the technology, which he claims is essential for enhancing China’s food security.

In spite of initial opposition to genetically modified crops, this is a viewpoint that is shared throughout the rest of the world, including Europe. Food security is becoming a bigger concern as long as there are still droughts, conflicts, and worries about international trade. Crops that have been genetically modified and edited enable much more effective farming.

Due to the use of primarily genetically modified corn, which has made the United States the world’s top producer, corn fields in China typically yield only 60% as much corn as those in the United States. In 1996, the year it first authorised genetically modified soybeans, America surpassed China as the world’s largest producer of soybeans.

China continues to be cautious in their approach to genetically modified and edited crops despite the changes to regulations and the approval of genetically modified and genetically edited crops, representing a significant shift from the past.

Less than 1% of the maize fields there will be planted with gene-edited crops this year. In specific areas of the provinces of Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Hebei, and Yunnan, a number of varieties will be planted. This is less of a full rollout of genetically modified crops and more of a large-scale trial.

China’s cabinet stated that it would “orderly expand the trial area and regulate the management of planting” in a policy document on the subject.

In terms of genetically modified and edited products, China continues to lag behind other nations. The recent flurry of activity suggests China is serious about catching up, despite their cautious approach.